You have heard it before, you must ensure that you strike a healthy work-life balance lest you suffer from burnout, depression, or you are pushed to alcoholism or drug use in search of relaxation and fulfillment. We cannot agree more; you do need to check yourself so that you don’t ruin yourself. However, do we understand what this work-life balance entails. Is it meant for career-pursuing people only or does it include other professionals and entrepreneurs?
The first step is to understand the context of work-life balance, after which we can define what it is within the given contexts and lastly how we can achieve it.
Understanding the context
Work- Life balance is not only for career men and women or professionals in the workplace. It is also for stay at home moms/dads, grandparents in their sunset years, entrepreneurs, and whichever group one may belong to. The main thing to remember is; are you leading a fulfilling and flourishing life? Are you having a good balance between what you must do and what you like to do? Or are you constantly feeling used, unfulfilled, tired, neglected and angry when performing certain tasks? Then you may need to re-evaluate your life and ensure you strike that balance to live a happy and fulfilled life.
Defining Work-Life balance
Having gone through the different contexts, we can now tackle the monster that is Work-life balance.
It can be loosely defined as that balance required between time allocated for execution of professional tasks and responsibilities and other aspects of life such as personal interests, family and leisure activities.
Many are the times we get caught up between fulfilling our professional and personal obligations. It is almost impossible striking a work-life balance, especially with the advent of technology which has made professionals virtually accessible 24 hours a day. We are living in times where people are working longer hours, but it comes with a heavy price to pay in the form of stress on relationships, health and general wellbeing.
Every individual attaches a different meaning to work-life balance but here are a few tips that can help you strike the right balance.
- Stop seeking perfectionism
You want to be the best at your job, the star performer of the organization, maybe even the Chief Executive Officer within a set out time frame and you believe that you must be perfect in all that you do to achieve this. It is easy, it is possible at the start, but you are soon heaped with more responsibilities as you grow personally and professionally. The quest for perfectionism soon becomes a quest too ambitious and can be potentially destructive and unhealthy. You may suffer from burn out or even mental breakdowns. Let go of perfectionism and instead strive for excellence.
- Switch off, unplug
We all agree that technology is a wonderful thing. It has made the world smaller, enabled us work remotely, enabled us to interact virtually while increasing our accessibility. However, with increased accessibility comes the feeling of a never-ending day as you are drawn into responding to work emails and other notifications that may pop up on your gadgets’ way after work hours, long after you have left the office and are busy at a leisure activity or family gathering. Take time out for yourself and ensure that it is quality time away from work related matters. This is a time to relax, regenerate and regroup going forward.
- Exercise and meditation
Regular exercise or meditation have been proven to be a stress reducer. Other than the obvious effects they have on your body, they increase your energy levels and aid with relaxation and sleep quality.
- Eliminate the time wasters
This includes people and activities that add no value to you. You must do this according to your priorities and set firm boundaries to enable you devote quality time to activities and people that matter most to you.
- Change your habits
We have been conditioned to believe that our habits are cast in stone but inevitably there is that point in time where we must change if we desire to progress moving forward. Some of these changes include delegating tasks, taking time to embrace and learn new things. You would be amazed at how these changes can make your life simpler by freeing up your time in some instances or widening your mind’s horizons.
- Its all about baby steps…you will walk eventually
Most of us are guilty of making New Year’s resolutions that we break by March. The same applies to decisions we make in pursuit of the perfect work-life balance. Rather than making drastic changes, it makes more sense to start small, experience some success and build from there as you seek to find a decent balance between work and life.1