Work Life Balance has been the subject of much discussion all over the World among people of all ages.
With increased work challenges, the stress levels are beginning to rise for almost everyone. When work life and personal life is out of balance, stress will increase. This is evident from the increased health challenges hospitals are beginning to see in terms of heart and cholesterol problems, increase in pre-diabetic disorders and significant increase in aches and pains in the back and shoulders of young men and women. Most psychologists would agree that the demands of an employee’s career should not overwhelm the individual’s ability to enjoy a satisfying personal life outside of the business environment. A poor balance between work life and personal life will lead to fatigue and poor health.
Business Dictionary defines Work Life Balance as “A comfortable state of equilibrium achieved between an employee’s primary priorities of their employment position and their private lifestyle.” This balance should help you in attaining focus and awareness, despite the seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for your time and attention.
This balance needs to be looked in the context of four segments. Family, Self, Work and Friends. Each of these four segments are mutually dependent on one another. The boundaries between work and personal time are now hazy, at best.
Most people agree that they need to change their work priorities assuming that whatever change they make, will give them the elusive “balance that they are seeking. Work life balance for each one of us will be completely different. It will differ for a single person, one who is married and one who has children and other family commitments. There is no “one size fits all” definition for work life balance. No one I know seems to have achieved that perfect balance between “work” and “life”.
The widely accepted outcome of Work could be Achievement and that of Life could be Enjoyment. Are these two sides of the same coin? Are these mutually exclusive or could there be a blend of both achievement and enjoyment? At what stage should achievement give way to enjoyment if we assume that achievement results in more money, power, assets and other worldly belongings? Conversely, at what stage is too much enjoyment detrimental to achievement?
More and more people are depending upon their digital devices to earn a living, stay connected with friends, family and the workplace. They use these devices for their news and entertainment, when they have time. Smart phones with 4G or LTE is making data accessible from anywhere in the world in a nano-second. What are these devices doing to our work life balance?
So what are some of the questions raised by each one of us to justify this imbalance?
I Spend Quality Time with my Family
Dividing one’s time equally between work, family and sleep is not an achievement of a perfect balance. Keeping one hour every evening to “spend quality time and bond” with one’s child is practiced by many. What happens if this time slot does not suit the child? Does the child then negotiate a new time slot?
We go for expensive vacations and I buy gifts
Most duty free purchases of cosmetics, clothes, electronics and toys happens because of “guilt shopping”. Taking the family for expensive holidays and buying them expensive gifts to make up for all the time is not necessarily achieving the balance that your family is seeking. Such gifts would be tantamount to buying peace at home and such peace will be very short-lived.
I work hard to secure a better future for my family.
When I told my family that I was travelling 20 days a month to secure a better future for my family, I was in for a rude shock. I was surprised to hear that my travels and work was only for myself and that my family would prefer that, I spend more time at home!
We only have 24 hours in a day and there is no way that we can squeeze any additional time, irrespective of who we may be or how much power we may believe we have. Given below are some pointers that we can work on to manage the inevitable imbalance we have in our work and life priorities.
Manage your time well.
Prioritise and schedule your work in office and at home. Do not bunch up all your work for one day. Delegate to your colleagues and empower your teams to give yourself more time.
Learn to say No.
Most of us hesitate to turn down work or an invitation even though we know that we do not have the time. We do not like to offend another person by declining.
Leave for your work at your work place.
If you are not able to do this, keep your phone and other electronic devices in another room before you head to your bedroom. Nothing can be so important that should disturb your sleep.
Follow the “bottom drawer” principle.
With the constant arrival of E Mails, WhatsApp messages, conference calls and so many other messages, you are inundated with messages that need a response. Anything message you believe is not important should be moved to a “junk” folder. The sender of the mail will follow up if it is important. Otherwise, empty your junk folder at the end of the month.
Give yourself breathing space.
Instead of running from morning to evening, whether for work or for family, you need to be step back and carve out some personal time for yourself, to think, plan ahead and rejuvenate yourself.
Achieving a balance between work and life is always a challenge for everyone. At work, you need to agree where you need to draw the line. The balance will change every day and in ways that you could never have anticipated. Do what you think is right and in consultation with your family. After all, they are the ones who gain or lose the most if the balance becomes unbalanced!
The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies and the author of 5 best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here – Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.
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