How do you Achieve a Good Work-Life Balance? – Part One
Work-life balance is about creating and maintaining supportive and healthy work environments, which will enable you to have a balance between work and personal responsibilities and thus strengthen your loyalty and productivity. Today’s workers have many competing responsibilities such as work, children, housework, volunteering, spouse and elderly parent care, and this places stress on individuals, families and the communities in which they reside. Add to this an increasing part of the working population now working from home due to practices brought in by COVID-19. Work-life conflict is a serious problem that impacts workers, their employers, and communities. Long work hours and highly stressful jobs not only hamper one’s ability to harmonise work and family life but also are associated with health risks, such as increased smoking and alcohol consumption, weight gain and depression. The work-life conflict has been associated with numerous physical and mental health implications.
Work-life balance means different things to different people — what matters to some is less important to others. However, employers are certainly waking up to some home truths. In fact, researchers say business survival depends on finding better ways to protect people from the demands of their jobs. Management expert and author Charles Handy has studied this for some time. He said, “We are in danger of populating companies with the modern equivalent of monks, who forgo all else for the sake of their calling”. Employers seem to have taken this to heart. They realise that overwork, stress and other problems related to jobs are highly counterproductive to results.
Many overachievers develop perfectionist tendencies at a young age when demands on their time are limited to school, hobbies and maybe an after-school job. It is easier to maintain that perfectionist habit as a kid, but as you grow up, life gets more complicated. As you climb the ladder at work and as your family grows, your responsibilities mushroom. Perfectionism becomes out of reach, and if that habit is left unchecked, it can become destructive. The key to avoiding burning out is to let go of perfectionism. As life gets more expanded, it is extremely hard, both neurologically and psychologically, to keep that habit of perfection going. The healthier option is to strive not for perfection, but for excellence.
Also, you need to let go of the fear that if you are not giving 150%, you will be let go. To develop a healthy balance between work and life, you have to first let go of the fear that, if you are not working, your company will fail. When you have done a day’s work, let it go, rest and try again tomorrow. The sky will not fall on you – even if you have left several items unchecked on your to-do list.
Next, set yourself boundaries. This is especially true of today’s increased number of homeworkers who can easily blur the line between work life and home life. If customers or colleagues think it is OK to call you at 11pm if they need something, they will. Set firm boundaries around when you are, and are not, available. Doing so will help you relax when you are off the clock and avoid burnout, while also helping others avoid unmet expectations.
If you have previously kept an open-door policy at all hours of the day, shifting to a more limited availability can be frustrating to people who are used to having continuous access to you. Notify them of your schedule changes in a professional manner and reiterate that limiting your availability will improve your ability to meet their needs more effectively when you are on the clock.
Your personal health is a vital ingredient in achieving a good work-life balance. Even when you are busy, you make time for the crucial things in life. You eat. You go to the bathroom. You sleep. And yet one of your most crucial needs – exercise – is often the first thing to go when your calendar fills up. Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through your body. It helps lift your mood and can even serve a one-two punch by also putting you in a meditative state. It is recommended dedicating a few chunks of time each week to self-care, whether it is exercise, yoga or meditation. And if you are really pressed for time, start small with deep breathing exercises during your commute or at your desk, a quick five-minute meditation session morning and night, or replacing drinking alcohol with a healthier form of stress reduction.
Next time, we will give you a few more tips on how to get the best work-life balance your situation allows.