For better or for worse our fast-paced, hi-tech lifestyle makes it possible to stay connected and work longer hours even while out of the office. This has become the norm, so much so that people find it hard to disconnect even while on vacation. There becomes an expectation to be on call at all times which results in us becoming a culture of workaholics with no life outside of work. With no clear boundaries it is very easy for your life to revolve around your job but this can lead to stress and burnout. Experts recommend that to lead happier and healthier lives we should aim to achieve balance between the time and energy we expend on work versus other aspects of our lives such as personal interests, family, friends, leisure and self-care. Think of it as your Achievement-Enjoyment balance.
There isn’t, however, a static, one-size-fits-all formula. It is not necessarily a 50/50 split either. It is individual, fluid and varies over time depending on your unique personality, circumstances and stage of life. It can also be a huge daily challenge but the first step is mindfulness.
Here are a few tips to get you started achieving that elusive work-life balance.
1. Be pro-active.
When considering a new job/employer consider if the corporate culture is conducive to work-life balance. The best employers recognise this need and institute policiesand adopt realistic expectations that enable employees to pursue more balanced lives, for example by allowing for flexible work schedules, time off, and organising family events and activities.
2. Time management is key.
(a) Optimize and maximise your work day to avoid having to take work home by prioritising and maximising the hours when you know yourself to be most productive.
(b) Create a countdown to vacation that is shared with your team and boss so that there are no surprises and they are prepared for your absence.
(c) Ensure that all tech communications tools are state-of-the-art and reliable so that you can telecommute or video conference with ease to work remotely.
(d) Draw clear boundaries between personal time and work time and set clear expectations with team and boss about your availability.
3. Be strategic.
Write down, monitor and assess your current WLB based on the amount of time spent on work-related and non-work-related activities. If the balance is unsatisfactory take steps to correct the balance to one that is more favourable.
4. Work Smart, Not Hard.
“Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they use it up. The real hero is already home… Because she figured out a faster way to get things done.” – Jason Friend & David Heinemeier Hansson
5. Learn how to say no (guilt-free)
…when work threatens to encroach on personal time.