Work-Life Balance: An Achievement To Win Or Lifestyle To Follow?
Imagine attaining the glorious work life balance, a goal to reach, the gold medal to win. You made it! You’re a successful human being and now you have to do nothing at all but just stay in that balanced state forever. If this is what you think work-life balance is, I’m sorry but you’re terribly wrong.
The problem is we tell ourselves ‘I’m going to work till 5 and then I’ll put the rest of my time for my family, gym, my everything’ But only if it was that simple. You’re trying to fit 48 hours worth to-do’s in your day of 24 hours. Now that’s not only impossibly unrealistic but also harsh. Work-life balance isn’t so black and white. It’s not something we have or we don’t. It’s a continuous process, an everyday routine, a never ending discipline that requires motivation, time management and self awareness. We believe fixing the schedule can help us get ‘everything done’. But that’s the problem, you can never be all ‘done’. There are always going to be tasks with deadlines, goals to achieve and things to worry about. Think of balance as little investments you make on a regular basis for an outcome rather than some one time payment.
Despite all the research around the benefits of work life balance and how harmful long hours of office can be, many of us are still struggling to free ourselves from these unhealthy patterns of daily life.
Also in a study conducted by Harvard, the majority of people describe their jobs as exhausting, demanding and chaotic. People felt overlooked and taken for granted. But while all these individuals agreed on the problems, they also agreed on one solution. That one thing that helped them all for the better. The research Concluded that achieving work life balance wasn’t actually about achieving a one-time fix, but a routine that we have to continuously be committed to in our daily lives.
It all comes down to reflecting with increasing your self awareness. It’s a cycle you must follow.
Most of us in this virtual world are living our lives in automation. We aren’t really aware of the things around us, we aren’t really focused on the present moment. It’s important to take a little pause and reflect on what exactly is the source of your stress. Is it un-balance? Is it dissatisfaction? Are you keeping a track of how long it takes for you to do what you do throughout the day?
Denormalise working all day or on weekdays in the name of hustle. We tend to think working long hours is what makes you a successful professional, but success isn’t slogging for hours but it is about being able to do everything you want throughout the day. Being able to live your life and enjoy your days.
The same survey also found that those who refused to work beyond their work timings, and those who refused long hours had shockingly similar strategies for balancing their work life and personal life. They had developed ‘reflexivity’. Meaning, they constantly questioned, reflected and took efforts to defend their work-life balance from circumstances that stood in the way. They identified the roadblocks that caused stress. This helps you get clarity of what you want for yourself and helps you deal with things that stand in the way of your balanced work life.
To have a good work life balance, adopt these few five steps:
1. Pin point on the exact cause of your stress
It’s not that people who have mastered their work life balance aren’t busy or don’t have a lot to do, but the difference is they’re not rushed. They feel in control. Stress is reduced by feelings of control. Identifying the root of your stress is how you can start to solve it.
2. Reflect on how you feel in a particular situation
Do you feel angry? Energetic? Sad? Satisfied? Acknowledging your emotions in a particular situation gives you a rational understanding of how your priorities and tasks are making you feel. It’s called emotional reflexively- capacity to understand your emotions so that you can make changes.
3. Re-prioritise your work and avoid cutting back family time
You have to draw the line. Decide what should be prioritized right now. The stress rolls in when people throw every single task into the ‘important box’ There’s a lot to do, but what’s the most important thing to do ‘right now’?
4. Consider your alternatives. Is there anything in the work routine that you can change?
Do what only you can do. See if someone can replace you, and let them do the task. Maybe it’s the laundry, the dishes, or any other simple paper work at the office that can take up hours of your time but can be done by just about anyone.
Do less things but do them better.
5. Finally, implement your changes
Manage your time differently or have a word with your manager to work this out.
Urgent doesn’t mean important, bailing out on family time on the weekend isn’t really worth it for ‘always urgent’ office tasks.
These five steps are something anyone can implement, according to their own convenience and stick to it. Evaluating these steps at every problem, constantly maintaining the routine, being disciplined and prioritising things right is the key to work life balance. One size does not fit all, not everyone can decide to put 8 hours of work and 8 hours for personal activities. These steps can help you tailor a plan that will better fit with your schedule. Above all of it, emotional awareness is the first step to recognise where you need a change and how to make it.
A rigid fixed schedule might actually put you into more stress than relieving you of any. Say you fixed particular hours for everything, 8 exactly hours for work, 2 hours for the workout, 3 for the chores or an hour or so to chill out. And let’s say you do manage to do it all. You do it all in your day. But you’re still putting yourself through underlying stress. The time you spare to ‘chill out at home’ might actually turn out to be the time you’re stressing about the next thing to do. Even if you’re physically relaxing, you could be mentally stressed. This is where the five steps come into play. To help you identify whether you’re enjoying the things you’re doing throughout your day, how are you feeling about them and what emotions emerge when you’re upset.‘Work-life balance isn’t about the perfect schedule, it’s a synonym for having a sense of satisfaction and contentment’.