The concept of work life balance basically views work and life as 2 separate parts of our life that need to be maintained equally.
In a much broader sense, it means to utilise more time for leisure things, family time or simply self care. It is something which many youths, including myself, struggle with. It’s difficult to find a space that is just the right balance of work and leisure.
About work-life balance
The reason why work-life balance has become such a growing topic in discussions among the self-help and self-care community is because the “constant hustle” cultre has fixed the idea of constantly being on the go, working and being productive into the workforce and has made it the norm.
This has built the toxic idea in most workplace employees that they should be constantly on the go and hustling, being productive instead of taking time off for themselves and doing things that they love.
Even if you love your job and are motivated to work, overworking yourself without taking breaks will eventually lead to some resentment – either towards yourself, your colleagues or even your job.
Constantly being on the run, working even on the weekends will lead to eventual burnout – be it mentally or physically – this is what leads to resentment and negative feelings which is your mind and body’s indication to needing a break.
Also, assuming that if you work extra hard, harder than others will lead you to great success in your career is wrong. Yes, it might help to get ahead, but at the cost of your own well being. (Definitely not worth it!)
It’s important to learn to develop healthy work-life balance.
Tips to maintain work-life balance
Before going into work-life balance, you need to know what is ‘balance’ for you.
Write down the things in your life that are priorities, then analyse your life daily life and try to make an estimate on how much time you’re able to allot to each priority.
Then take a moment to reflect on that.
Are you happy with that? What would you like to change? How much of a change do you want? How will that change your life?
- Set Schedules
When you realise how you want your day-to-day life to be organized it becomes easier to schedule your day accordingly.
Set a fixed schedule for workdays with fixed times for work and fun things that you enjoy .
When you have a fixed schedule, especially one that is more or less consistent throughout all workdays, it becomes much easier to get into that ‘flow’ state of work and enjoy uninterrupted work times. Also helps you detangle yourself from work after a specific time and just enjoy other things.
Now, it might seem easy to fix a schedule and plan out your entire day, but the difficult part is sticking to that workplan and being consistent with it.
Especially as someone like me who doesn’t fit well with schedules and hates being routine, it gets boring.
Something that I have been trying is to set timers and little rewards for myself for successfully going through a schedule.
But somedays, even that doesn't motivate me enough, those days you just have to force yourself, sometimes you have to push through without motivation.
- Turn Off
Turn off work mode – both, from your devices and your head.
Turn off work and email notifications. If possible, turn off devices and spend time doing the things that make you happy or spend time with people that make you happy.
It’s important to not let work distract you during times that are supposed to be your ‘off’ times.
Obviously this won’t work for you if you have a job that requires you to be on alert most of the times.
But for a student plus writer like me, it’s easy to shut off my phone and go out on a walk or read or study my favourite subjects.
- Make Boundaries
When you have a schedule and fixed times for everything, there is only that limited time for you to work and to relax.
It’s important to learn to maintain that boundary between your work and your personal life.
Learn to not bring your work into your personal space, to give time to people outside of the work environment and maintain balance.
The way to achieve this balance is from within, it is a resultant of your own choices and it’s important for you to make wise decisions and respect the boundary that you have created for yourself.
If you are someone like me who finds it difficult to work within boundaries,it’s going to be a difficult task to navigate through them and be disciplined, but the only way to have successful work-life balance is by execution- simply learn to work within boundaries and stick to your routine.
After atleast a month of following through, go back to analysing your daily life. Ask yourself the same questions you asked yourself in the first step.
Are your answers different now? Do you feel more happy/content with the way your work-life balance is now?
Observe and reflect on your emotions before and after and see if things have changed.
Even though work life balance is a widely discussed topic, not everything said about it is positive.
Cons to work-life balance
Work-life balance is based on the idea that work and life are 2 different parts of our life that need to be maintained equally. It creates this barrier between work and life and puts a pressure on people to be able to manage both equally and successfully.
But the reality of the situation is that work and life can never be equally balanced in life.
There will be times when you will have to make certain decisions based off of your professional life and that takes priority in your everyday life.
There will also be times when your personal life will take the spotlight and you will set your work away to enjoy your life with people you love or just do things to keep yourself happy.
So when it is clear that having a perfect work-life balance isn’t possible and yet we pressurise ourselves to live that way, it is just like running a race but in the opposite direction to everyone else – you might feel like you’re winning when in reality you’re making decisions that will not benefit you.
It’s important to accept that the idea of perfect work-life balance is not correct. Accept that you cannot treat things as rigid blocks, sometimes things are just grey.
While studying about these ‘grey’ areas, I came across this really interesting concept.
Work-life integration removes the idea of having a perfectly balanced equation between work and life and blends everything together.
To be precise, it removes the rigid boundaries between your personal and professional life and sets your day in such a way that work, health, family, self, everything is given appropriate attention but without the strict regimes and schedules.
It is a way of creating a collaboration between many areas of your life.
With the added flexibility to your life, it becomes easier to manage work and personal life and if you feel like adding more things to your life, you can easily do that.
It gives the opportunity to be professional while handling many things at the same time and still remain sane !
Tips to work-life integration
- Create a schedule that focuses on all the main priorities in your life. Unlike schedules from work-life balance that dealt with ensuring ‘equlibrium’ between work and life on almost a daily basis, these schedules are based more on what you feel like and what you’re motivated to do
- For example – one day I might be in the mood to study and write and instead of going out with friends i would just stay at home and read a book or draw.
The next day I might not be in the mindset to study, so I could spend time with friends and family.
- It’s a way to balance your life,but in a way that suits you.
- The only thing to keep in mind is to make sure that your schedule distributes time to all your priorities in a more or less equal amount and fulfills you and the people most important to you.
- Just like in work-life balance situations, it’s important to have boundaries here as well, but not as strict/rigid.
- Here you don’t have to set times in your day reserved only for work and only for fun. You only have a brief blueprint of how much time you want to spend working and how much on leisure things.
- You just need to try and not let the two (work and fun) overlap and keep them at a distance.
But just like incase of work-life balance, work-life integration also has some downsides.
Cons to work-life integration
- If you don’t spread your priorities out equally, you might end up spending most of your time either working or on leisure things.
- You may not be able to properly navigate through the blend of work and life and might lose the grip on maintaining balance between the two.
- You may have your mind constantly preoccupied with other things due to lack of proper scheduling of thoughts and work times.
Having read all of this – what do you feel suits your life and your goals to the best limit? Let us know!