The old proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” rightly portrays the importance of a balance between work and fun. Overdose of either can have a negative impact on one’s life as well as health. Despite knowing the term, there is still confusion about work-life balance.
What is Work-Life Balance?
Often when people hear the term ‘work-life balance’, they assume it refers to maintaining a good work life which is only their professional life.On the contrary, work-life balance refers to equally prioritising work as well as personal life.
The term work-life balance was first addressed in the U.K. in the 80’s when women stirred up a movement for flexible work schedules and maternity leaves. The movement did them little good but it brought a new notion into existence.
Earlier, there was a fine line between work and personal life. Employees were unable to bring their work back home and that provided relief as they returned to their families each evening. Unfortunately, due to the advances in technology, the employees are carrying their work everywhere they go. Which has enabled them to be accessible to their employers as and when required.
Especially during the ongoing pandemic, the trend of ‘work from home’ has caused personal and professional life to be combined, leaving no distinction between the two. Which has now taken a toll on the individual’s performance as an employee as well as on their personal and family life.
Some of the common reasons that lead to an imbalance in work and life are:
- Increased responsibilities at work
- Burden of all the household responsibilities
- Longer work hours
What are the ways to create Work-Life Balance?
Even if many people know about work-life balance, they do not know how to implement it. Here are some tips around the concept
No perfect balance
The concept of work-life balance is not fixed. Accept that there is no perfect balance. Completing your day’s task within work hours and spending a jolly time with your family everyday may not be possible. Some days you may work a little extra and some days you may spend more time with children. The bottom line has to be that you are meeting your work requirements and fulfilling your role in family life along with some me-time.
Do what you love
Holding a job and earning money is a necessity of life. If you have to do it a minimum of five day per week, make sure you are doing something you enjoy. Your work should look forward to it rather than dread it. Doing something you are passionate about helps increase your productivity at work and provides job satisfaction.
Health is wealth
Keep in mind that in order to continue working, you have to be in working condition. If your job is causing any negative effects on your physical, emotional or mental health , do not hesitate to take a break and focus on your health first.
Stepping out of your office or shutting your laptop is like switching off the work switch. Avoid thinking of emails, clients, meetings, deadlines and agendas once you’re sitting in your living room. Thinking about work during family time or me time will not help complete the task, it will only stress you out and deprive you of an actual personal life.
Your hard work deserves a little pat on the back. This pat on the back may be a day off from work just to relax once in a while or a week long yearly vacation with your family.
Your work is one of the parts of your life not your complete life and it must be treated likewise.
Work from home has caused a mix in personal and professional life. Although, it is your decision to set clear boundaries. These boundaries include
Deciding fixed work hours and sticking by them.
Not entertaining work calls or emails outside of work hours unless it is an emergency.
Shutting off from work during your day off and during vacations.
Practising the above will make it easier for you to distinguish between your two lives.
While you are engaged in either work or personal life, focus on that particular thing instead of attempting to juggle it all at once. An attempt at juggling may ruin everything you’re trying to accomplish.
If you find yourself spending more time with your laptop rather than with your family, take the following steps to bring change in your routine.
- Take a step back and evaluate your work-life balance- is your work consuming the majority of your time?
- Let your emotions tell you how you are feeling. Are you feeling stressed, burnt out, suffocated?
- Once you have a clear picture of the effects of overworking on yourself, make a firm decision to break the cycle and bring a balance in your life.
- Before you take any concrete steps towards that change, study your options. Does the change require you to alter your work timings? Will you have to speak to your superiors about the burden at work?
- Only after deciding on the best solution for yourself, go ahead and implement the change.
What can employers do?
Employees can maintain work life balance only if their employers support it. Hence, employers too need to take some measures to help out their employees. Such as:
Flexible work timings
Give the employee the option of choosing their login and logout timings with the rule of working a certain number of hours per day.
Undisturbed offs and holidays
Avoid contacting the employees for work related matters on their day of and during their vacations, unless it is an emergency. This allows them their personal space and they will return to work with a fresh mind.
Once work timings are decided on, avoid expecting the employees to work overtime. Respect their attention span towards their work. This will help maintain good quality work from the employees.
A well maintained work life balance improves mental and physical health. It keeps stress levels in check. It motivates the employees to achieve their goals. And it minimizes the burnouts. All these factors lead to an increased job satisfaction and a higher level of productivity.
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