Work-life balance is a term that is often talked about in the workplace, but the concept of living a balanced work life has been debated for several years. Different people have varied opinions about their interpretation of what a “balanced life” is. For example, enjoying a flexible work schedule, periodic happy hours, team building exercises, closing early to spend more time with the family etc. can be one of several ways of balancing your work life with other things you enjoy doing.
But in reality, we achieve work-life balance when we have enough time to pursue both work and personal interests that we love, without the achievement of one goal negatively impacting the other. However, when you feel that there is an imbalance between one area of your life, such than one consumes so much of your energy, you easily can become stressed, your productivity can fall, and your personal relationships can be negatively impacted.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what work-life balance really means and some of the simple ways you can develop a road map towards achieving a work-life balance, in order to achieve happiness, self satisfaction, fulfillment and enjoy a better relationship with your family and friends.
Work-life balance is a conception that refers to your belief that your personal and work lives are properly balanced in a way that allows you to spend enough time achieving your personal and professional goals, without compromising your personal relationships with those you love and activities that are most important to you.
A few quick ways of starting your journey of achieving a work-life balance include:
1. Start Tracking Your Time: In order to begin the journey of balancing your work and life activities, you need to take a log of how you spend you time by identifying what’s taking up the bulk of your time and where changes can be made to find the right balance. First and foremost, get an activity log book and start keeping track of how much time you spend at work versus other activities outside of work like grocery shopping, family time, TV time, Computer time etc. You may even want to create a chart that will help you see the numbers in a pictorial format, and the results may be surprising!
You may be surprised that you spend more time on the phone than you’ve ever imagined, which in most cases keeps you from spending quality time with the family. You may also realize that you spend so much time manually putting together a report for your boss, which if you can learn a few programming skills in Excel may enable you to generate the report in a more timely manner, without going through some manual labor.
Once you’ve completed the activity log, categorize the “must-haves” and “less-important” activities into a form of priority matrix, which will then help you identify gaps between key tasks and those that you can potentially delegate to someone else, automate (if resources or tools are available), completely stop doing or reduce its frequency of occurrence.
By identifying what takes up the bulk of your time, and finding solutions to either automate the tasks (where applicable) or limiting the time spent on such tasks, you should be able to free up more time for yourself and then incorporate more rewarding activities that will enable you achieve the desired work-life balance.
2. Work Smarter by Improving Work Efficiency: Employers are looking for smarter workers everyday, because, they typically get the work done in the most efficient manner! But, working smarter and gaining work efficiency also plays a role in helping you achieve work-life balance, when channeled in the right way. The more efficient and productive you are at work, the faster you get your assigned work completed, and therefore, working late or extra hours on certain tasks may be avoided, hence providing you with an opportunity to have more time for other things outside of work.
3. Endeavor to Add Some Flexibility to Your Job: Flexibility is a key ingredient needed to achieve and maintain a good work-life balance. A previous study showed that people who believe they have flexible jobs look more favorably on their work-life balance than those with the same workload but with no perceived flexibility. The result of another study came to a similar conclusion that you’re more likely to stay and feel satisfaction in your job if you have access to flexible working arrangements.
Working in most corporate environment does not always afford you the opportunity to enjoy flexible work arrangement, but there is no harm in asking your boss to allow more flexibility in your work schedule, perhaps you could work from home one day a week, or work extra hours some days, so that you can take off an entire day to take the kids out on a mini-vacation.
4. Create More Time for Yourself: If you are a parent, then you must be wearing so many caps as you juggle several responsibilities and roles such as being a boss/mentor at work; while being a father or mother/role model/caregiver/spouse etc for your family. You may even be taking care of an older parent or family member, and when you add up all these roles, it’s so easy to get exhausted and quickly feel out of balance.
Even as you try to balance you work and life to have more time for the family and other important activities you’ll like to engage in, you need to also create time to spend on yourself and always give yourself a treat. If you spend all day attending to other people’s wants and needs, you won’t have the energy and strength to achieve your own goals and objective. As such, you need to create time everyday for enjoying the activities in life that keeps you physically and mentally healthy including exercises, healthy meals, adequate sleep, prayer time etc.
To ensure you achieve more work-life balance, ensure you spend time auditing how you spend your time, create more time for yourself by adequately prioritizing activities you engage in, add flexibility to your work schedule, and make sure you enjoy life to the fullest!