What is Work-Life Balance?
Do you get enough time at your disposal to spend it with your loved ones? Do you spend your leisure time enjoying life? Or Do you work for extra hours to complete your tasks assigned at work? Do you get confused between you having a career and a life? These questions will help you evaluate your work-life balance.
Work-Life balance describes the balance that an individual requires between the time allocated for work and different aspects of life. It means widening your life beyond work like family, friends, personal time to pursue your hobbies, exercise, entertainment, shopping and relaxing, etc. It does not mean separating your work and rest of life but, striking a state of equilibrium.
Amidst pandemic, people find it even more challenging to achieve this balance while working from home. Because without any proper schedule and unavailability of any domestic help, they need to manage their household chores in the time that was earlier set aside for office.
Consequences of Poor Work-Life Balance
Technology makes us accessible for work around the clock. Competition and fear of job loss make us work over-time. Over-utilized, over-worked, and an intense work environment affects the overall physical and psychological health of employees and deteriorates their personal-life in the following ways-
- Health– Long working hours can make a person feel over-burdened, and can lead to stress. The symptoms can be irritation, poor concentration, and can also result in specific critical health issues like cardiovascular disease, depression, weak immune system, etc.
- Fatigue– It makes you feel tired and exhausted and reduces one’s productivity and ability to think clearly. It can also cause frequent headaches, backaches, etc.
- Changed Habits– A poor work-life balance can bump an individual into habits like alcohol consumption, smoking, stress eating, etc.
- No Time for Family– Working for extra hours invades your personal life and your family time, which leads to dissatisfaction and can sour your relations.
- Self-Doubt- When you see your peers doing good at work and enjoying life, but you being unable to maintain this balance, gives birth to a feeling of self-doubt and you tend to question your capabilities.
Achieving Work-Life Balance
Success is not the result of the amount of time we put in work, but the quality of time we put in. Too much of one thing (work) creates an imbalance that no one needs. Maintaining Work-Life balance is one of the most significant struggles faced by a common man and below are the ways to achieve it-
- Make a To-Do list and Re-think your tasks- Start your day by making a to-do list of all the essential tasks that we need to complete by the end of the day. Re-think and postpone the work which you can do later. Try to focus on those tasks that only you can do. Delegate or outsource what can be done by others, either personally or professionally. E.g., If some-one can do laundry, let them do it for you.
- Plan your day and draw a line- Set time-bound targets for yourself to complete a given task. It will keep you busy during the day and will not transmit the feeling of being in a rush because if you don’t run the day as per you, it will make you run tirelessly. When you plan your working hours right, you draw a line for yourself to maintain that balance by not working overtime, not working beyond your capacity, not working on a weekend, or leave.
- Let Go Perfectionist Attitude- Some people have the habit of re-checking every work that they get done through others. But you need to understand that as you climb up the ladder, you cannot scrutinize everything considering your responsibilities and time constraints. Therefore, you should part ways with such a perfectionist attitude and resort to random checks to complete your duties effectively in time.
- Prioritize and Limit activities- Most of us spend too much time on urgency and not enough time on what is important. You must have heard ‘Time is Money’ and investing time in wasteful activities and people at work like gossiping, taking coffee/ smoking breaks to accompany others, surfing social media, which will result in stretching beyond working hours. Therefore, the key is not to prioritize things on your schedule but schedule your priorities and what is important in your life. A day has 24 hours, and to make the most of it, you need to trim the unnecessary activities and accordingly plan your time.
- Unplug- Technology has taken a toll on every aspect of our life, be it personal or professional, and has set an expectation of constant accessibility. Keeping yourself engaged on devices like phones, laptops by sending official texts/ responding to emails, etc. can induce restlessness and stress in your subconscious mind. Therefore, it is vital to shut down all the devices after a particular time of the day, give undivided attention to your loved ones, and enjoy the moment.
- Exercise & Meditate– Even in the busiest times, we sleep, take a bath, eat. It is crucial to spare some time of the day for yourself and your re-creation. Try doing exercise and meditation as it helps in taming your wandering mind, gives you positive energy, and reduces your stress by lifting your mood. You need not spend hours on this self-care routine, but you can start with simple breathing exercises and devote at least 15-20 minutes for making peace between your mind, body, and soul.
- Flexible Work Structure- Does your company has a work structure of fixed working hours per day? When we have set working hours and less work to do, one has to stay in the office to complete their time, which instead could be spent with family. Therefore, employees should demand, and companies should move to a flexible work structure where they can spend appropriate time with family rather than sitting idle or engaging in unproductive activities looking at the tick-tock of the clock in the office. One example of a flexible work structure is work from home.
- Engage in Relaxation Programs once a week– In this new era, even corporates have started some stress off-loading activities for employees twice a week like Dance, Yoga, Martial Arts, etc. But when the employer takes these initiatives, the employees tend to miss these activities, assuming what their manager will think about them or considering their burden. But you need to understand that the company is investing for you and you should take a break and attend these at least once a week to relax your mind and body.
An improved work-life balance also benefits employers. When an employee enjoys being at work, it increases job satisfaction and security, improves productivity, enhances loyalty, and commitment, reduces absenteeism or attrition, and improves the overall organizational image.
Remember that in life, you juggle to balance work, family, friends, and health. Work is a rubber ball; if dropped, it will bounce back. But other aspects are balls of glass. If any of them falls, they will irrevocably shatter. So, do not become so busy making a living that you forget to live. Don’t let work encroach on your personal time. Getting off the track and out of balance is a path toward Sadness, Fear, Self-doubt, Stress. So, Invest to achieve work-life balance and let these go.