Our work and life away from work are rapidly intermingling. So much so that to compartmentalise them into two different spheres is fast becoming impractical.
Instead of harping about how your ‘work-life balance’ has gone for a toss and bemoaning it, think different!
No matter at what level are we currently in our careers, we cannot stop work creeping up on us even after office hours or even when we are vacationing. Same is the case with our personal life woes and responsibilities which we cannot shrug off citing work pressure.
So, in this scenario the adage of ‘work-life balance’ wears thin. Rather, accept the fact that your work is as much part of your life as your personal time and family life. After all, it is only if you treat and respect your work as your bread and butter that you would be able to do justice to your personal and family life.
As a fast-paced entrepreneur I used to face similar challenges. As business expanded my wife and kids were often left disappointed I could not spend enough time with them even when at home. At work, I often found personal and family matters clouding my mind.
It was only after I realised I would need to view the situation from a higher perspective that I started regaining my lost sense of fulfilment.
Seek Efficiency instead of Balance
- Reimage Achievement: Instead of gauging your life by bookish definitions of accomplishments, try introspecting what really gives you satisfaction and happiness. Is it simply a higher salary or a sense of making an impact at work? Is it taking out your family for dinner once a week? Is it spending more time with your old parents?
For if we really like doing certain things, be at work or on personal / family front, we are more likely to make thoughtful choices and actually indulge in them. We start working according to our priorities rather than being blown around aimlessly and taking up things which don’t really contribute to our happiness.
- Re-evaluate the Work / Personal Life Disengagement: Traditionally, it has been espoused that one must keep a strict divide between his work and personal life. Such as not getting distracted by official emails / calls, and not keep checking your phone when at home. On the other hand, shut off all personal and family related troubles while at work, and so on.
However, new research has shown that such attempts are not only impractical but unhealthy. All you end up doing is creating more stress for yourself.
The new way is accepting the fact that frequent overlapping of work and personal and family matters is perfectly alright!
If, while at work, you find yourself constantly mulling over a personal matter, instead of forcing your mind to shut it out, spend some time over it – and then get back to work. On the other hand, if you feel an office matter requires your inputs while at home or vacationing with your family, instead of trying to avoid it, attend to it – and then get back to enjoying your family time.
Such frequent break-offs at either end will in fact, increase your productivity and happiness index rather than decrease it.
- Talk it Over: When you see your personal or family problems demand your attention during difficult times even while at work, rather than trying to cover up, have a discussion with your boss and peers. Make them understand it would be a passing phase and you are still serious about your targets.
On the other hand, if some new project demands you often work even over weekends and from home, better have a discussion with your spouse and kids and explain them the situation.
There are two benefits of this: Firstly, you don’t start giving wrong impressions to people; and secondly, you are more likely to find support and understanding on both fronts.
- Foster Relationships: Following from the above point, invest in a support system, both at work and at home. It is rightly said that behind every successful person lie several others who contribute in one way or the other.
At work, try assisting your colleagues and superiors proactively in making their work life simpler. You are bound to find similar support from them in your own times of need. Similarly, try formulating common aspirations with your spouse at home for a happier and relaxed atmosphere. Often, even a simple acknowledgement from family members of your trying time at work works wonders in easing stress.
- Be Accountable to Yourself: Stop making excuses to yourself. Start holding yourself accountable both at work and in your personal and family life as well. This way, you would feel more in control and would have a sense of drive rather than feel life is getting on top of you. You could make tweaks to your professional and personal matters, and are more likely to juggle both more efficiently.
- Adopt Flexibility: All people, situations and settings are different; or, may get different with time. So, there can be no single defined way to deal with professional and personal matters for every one of us.
That is why having the sense to be flexible – both at work and at home – is crucial these days.
So, instead of having hard-boiled, rigid policies at work, it is best to keep tweaking them and bringing them up-to-date with evolving business and people’s requirements. For instance, instead of losing reliable people due to shift constraints, try incorporating different shifts at work. Instead of frowning upon providing extended leaves during family exigencies, try approving them to retain good employees.
Similarly, on the home front, if you cannot afford long family vacations, try incorporating weekend-getaways to keep your spouse and kids happy. The above were just a few of my thoughts on how to embrace work-life efficiency. I look forward to hear your views.