My weeks differ, as do the projects I am involved in. Does that really mean that I cannot balance my work and life properly since I cannot stick to the regular eight hour’s shift? Or maybe the work-life balance is just another myth that has nothing to do with the modern job reality?
For some, my working hours may seem pretty hectic and chaotic. I’m not an early bird, that’s for sure. I’m not a Monday person either. My productivity level rises as the days pass by towards the weekend and so does the amount of time spend at the office. As a consequence, my agenda is in a state of constant flux.
Balancing on a tightrope
I like the way I work though. It gives me a sense of freedom and, paradoxically, more free time. This way or another, I do know that my work style is not suitable for everybody. This is particularly vivid when I observe my fellow workers that have families with small children. Their daily work plan has to be polished up to every detail so they can leave the office at the perfect time. There are groceries to be bought, kids to be picked up from school, or other obligations that cannot wait.
Combining family life with a professional career always posed some kind of a challenge – no discussion here. Maybe that’s why the whole idea of a work-life balance was primarily focused on policies aiming at helping parents, mostly women, to reconcile job responsibilities and parenthood. With time, however, along with the shift in traditional gender roles, the concept evolved and started to cover larger groups of employees, up to the moment when organizations started to introduce work-life policies that included the entirety of the staff members.
Why did it happened so? The reason behind it is pretty obvious – work-life policies turned out to be very business-wise – the happier you are as an employee, the higher is your productivity. Mind one thing, businesses have somewhat worked it out for us, although it doesn’t mean that you are free to go and there’s no work to be done on your side in this matter. There are no golden rules that will work wonders for everybody. To make a long story short, it is your job to devise your very own work-life philosophy and HR policies may only serve as a tool enabling you to make it true.
I can’t help you either. Wish I could, but I too don’t have the potion for the perfect work-life balance. What I can do, however, is to give you some work/life hacks that may make this process a bit easier.
5 steps to a healthy work lifestyle
1. Take home only the positive
Take home your job only if it gives you pleasure, boosts your motivation, and contributes to your overall personal development. To put is simply, if you have to make use of your private time for the sake of your professional career, do it only to learn skills and gain experience that will give you the sense that you thrive as a person in general. Read some inspirational writings, indulge yourself in an informative chat concerning work related issues, meet interesting people and build up your professional network. Do whatever you feel that may be fun and will give you that extra energy kick.
2. Stay transparent
Whenever you have a hard time either at work or at home – communicate. An honest chat with your manager will give you the opportunity to discuss the difficulties that you are currently encountering. The solutions available may turn out to be easier to reach than you think. It may all come down to more a flexible work schedule, or working in a home-office from time to time. Most importantly, learn to say no. If you feel that your work responsibilities start to slowly but surely invade your private life – express your doubts loud and clear, set the boundaries, and stick to them.
3. Mind the people
When facing difficulties, discussing job related issues with your partner or friend may be a kind of relief. Unfortunately, it is only a short-term solution. This kind of stress coping strategy will help you to handle feelings of distress, but not the actual issue. If the problem stays unsolved and you feel that you are not capable of working it out within your organization, seek the help of a career coach or psychologist.
Your family and friends may not only have inadequate expertise to help you, but they also may not be capable of dealing with the emotional burden caused by your job related troubles. Sharing positive thoughts, on the other hand, may positively influence your relationships. However, keep in mind that constant blabbering about your job can be really annoying. Really, believe me.
4. Ease on having it all
As adults we have to cope with many social and professional roles. We are experts, coworkers, family members, parents, friends – the list could go on and on… Since you have only one mind and body, striving for perfection in all of your life spheres can not only be extremely straining but, let’s be hones here, even impossible.
First of all, remember that good enough can sometimes be better than the best. Secondly, avoid situations where you are left to your own resources and share your responsibilities whenever possible. If you feel that you are losing your grip – rework your daily schedule. Take a closer look at your agenda, prioritize, and discuss the difficult areas with the people involved.
5. Get unplugged
Technology has changed our lives. We have been given all the resources to always be connected, updated, and responsive. On the one hand it may be a blessing, allowing you, for example, to work at home, whenever you need it. On the other, you may be lured into the constant accessibility trap. If you feel that you are addicted to checking your phone notifications, sorry… there’s only one thing that can help. Go cold turkey and get unplugged. Find moments throughout the day when you can switch off completely – turn off your mobile, shut down your laptop. You may be surprised, how much free time you can win this way.
Have work, have a life
All work and no fun make Jack a dull boy. And what happens when your work is not fun at all? It makes you miserable. The best remedy for that is to learn what makes you happy and go after those things whenever possible. Do what you love and love what you do and you will need no tips and hacks whatsoever, because your work will become an integral element of your everyday life.
Another thing worth considering – do not ever forget that the responsibility for you career decisions rest on your very own shoulders. Let me quote Nigel Marsh here: “If you don’t design your life, someone else will design it for you and you just might not like their idea of balance.”
Enjoy the TED Talk and share your after-thoughts in the comments below!