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BETTER THAN BEFORE – 8 strategies to improve our work life balance

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Work Life balance – is important to lead a peaceful life. In this article author discusses 8 strategies we can adopt to improve our work life balance.

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some 5 balls in the air. You name them- Work, family, health, friends and spirit – and you are keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it will bounce back. But the other 4 balls family, health, friends and spirit- are made of glass. If you drop one of these they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life” – BRAIN DYSON. Yes, this beautiful quote portrayed by ex C.E.O of Coca – Cola Ltd BRAIN DYSON would definitely change our understanding about Work life balance.

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First of all let us know the basic on this, What is Work Life Balance? It is the state of equilibrium where a person equally prioritizes the demands of one’s career and the demands of one’s personal life. It looks  very simple and easy in words, in reality it takes the toll of our mental ability to balance it equally…naturally it’s a challenging task….

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Work-Life Balance

One basic question would like to ask that DO YOU WORK TO LIVE OR LIVE TO WORK. There is a very strong debate going around the world regarding the same question. Many of us did not think about it very seriously to some extent, the reason behind thesis our way of living which haven’t changed. We strongly believe that WORK/CAREER should and must go one step ahead in life then everything we can achieve later. Due to this mind set many have failed to overcome the stress factor or try too much to escape from the responsibilities.

You should ask yourself: Why can’t we change the OUTLOOK of facing any problem? As the world around us continues to change, our ways of working change too. We accept that change is the one thing which constantly happens and brings transformation.

Remember during this pandemic time also work hasn’t stopped but the only think got changed is the “way of living and working”. Those who reinvented themselves got the right balance, if you missed it do not patch up by giving excuses. Taking right decisions and using right strategies definitely help to find the right balance in life.

WHAT’S YOUR IDEA OF WORK LIFE BALANCE? Why is it important

“Work life Balance” is a catch all term for measuring work hours, accessibility and leave policies. But in reality its definition varies by region and generation. More over work life balance has become some kind of cliché, and more it figures in our talks, the less we seem to have of it. 

To begin with, the name itself is a misnomer. Work is a part of life, how we can balance a part with the whole and it is not vain and futile to even try to do that? What is actually aimed at is a WORK LIFE -PERSONAL LIFE BALANCE or more briefly and correctly WORK-FAMILY-BALANCE or integration.

We do not need to get the happy balance in our lives; we merely have to remove the unhappy imbalance that is there in our mind. We can say like this “THE WAY WE LOOK AT THE PROBLEM, IS THE PROBLEM”

Yes, Work-life balance is a misnomer. Our personal and family life satisfies our need for love and self care and professional life will fulfil mostly our need for power and gives financial security for future. We often reluctant to rebalance our work and home situation because we see the work as our financial security and we often believe that the threats to our security is our external when in reality it’s our own inner anxiety and insecurities are what block us from making changes. We must thrive hard to increase our capacity to tackle such problems to find a solution in future. And if we find inadequate to increase our capacity then we need to develop it through training and good networking. It’s like cultivating a habit which is routine in nature.

Life balance is commonly seen as the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the destination we desperately strive to get to, while we struggle to make progress in the darkness. At times, we hope that we can reach the light, while some times we fall in to a pit and lose sight of the light we are trying to reach. 

But life balance isn’t the destination, it’s the approach we take to deal with the challenges we face, and the torch we carry to help us better navigate our way in life. These days most people have long working hours topped by an insane commuting time, so in nutshell how many hours we can be spent with family anyways since the day in the face of all technological marvels, still remains just 24 hours?

Let us remember that it is not how long we work that stress us, but the way we look at and treat it and also our inability to enjoy it with a happy role playing detachment.  Our technology is giving us a crazy speed; it must keep pace with the inner sense of direction too.

We need to make “pause, ponder and pray” our daily discretionary mental habit. Unless we learn to do that even our personal life which we are trying to side with in the name of work life balance, will be a stressor- like at work place and we shall have conflicts in personal life as we already do. 

Then where shall we go? Are we finding a solution or an escape? Unless we have balance in our values, balance in our mental attitude there can be no balance in our living.

Why is it important to achieve good Work Life balance?

Often work takes precedence over everything else in our lives. Our desire to succeed professionally can push us to set aside our own well being. Creating a harmonious work life balance or work life integration is critical, though to improve not only our physical  emotional and mental being but its also important for our career. 

A good work life balance has numerous positive effects, including less stress lower risk of burnout and a greater sense of well being. This not only benefits employees but employers too.

It’s a win – win for corporate as staff productivity and commitment improve. As a professional have you ever wondered if you are achieving a healthy work life balance in your organisation. Tell tale signs of poor work life balance include high stress, overtime, absence and staff turnover. 

With the passage of time the relevance work life balance becomes very important when family responsibilities or other dependents becomes a priority.

Balancing home life and work enables you to meet several of your basic human needs. Let’s face it working fewer hours frees up time to focus on other things such as your community  health, family , hobbies and so on. So it may be timely to access your WORK LIFE BALANCE.

8 STRATEGIES TO MASTER WORK-LIFE BALANCE

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8 Strategies to Master The Work Life Balance
  1. Accept that there is no “PERFECT” Work life balance.

When you hear Work life balance you probably imagine having an extremely productive day at work, and leaving early to spend the other half of the day with friends and family. Don’t strive for the perfect schedule; strive for a realistic one. 

Some days you might focus more on work, while other days you might have more time and energy to pursue your hobbies or spend time with your loved ones. Balance is achieved over time, not each day.

  1. Find a job that you love:

Although work is an expected societal norm, your career shouldn’t be restraining. If you hate what you do, you aren’t going to be happy, plain and simple you don’t need to love every aspect of your job, but it needs to be exciting enough that you don’t dread getting out of bed every morning. 

If your job is draining you and you are finding it difficult to do things you love outside work , something is wrong. You may be working in a toxic environment for a toxic person or doing a job that you truly don’t love.

  1. Prioritize your health

Your overall physical, emotional and mental health should be your main concern. If you struggle with anxiety or depression and think therapy would benefit you, fit those sessions into your schedule, even if you have to leave work early or ditch your evening spin class. Over working yourself prevents you from getting better, possibly causing you to take more days off in the future. 

Prioritizing your health first and foremost will make you a better employee and person. It doesn’t have to consist of radical or extreme activities. It can be as simple as daily meditation exercise.

  1. Don’t be afraid to unplug

Cutting ties with the outside world from time to time allows us to recover from weekly stress and give us space for other thoughts and ideas to emerge. 

  1. Take a vacation: 

sometimes, truly unplugging means taking vacation time and shutting work completely off for a while. With proper planning you can take time away without worrying about burdening your colleagues or contending with a huge workload when you return. 

  1. Make time for yourself and your loved ones

While your job is important, it shouldn’t be your entire life. You were an individual before taking this position and you should prioritize the activities or hobbies that make you happy. No matter how hectic your schedule might be, you ultimately have control of your time and life. 

“Realize that no one at your company to love you or appreciate you the way your loved ones do”.

“Also that everyone is replaceable at work, and no matter how important you think your job is, the company will not miss a beat tomorrow if you are gone”.

  1. Set boundaries and work hours: 

Set boundaries for yourself and your colleagues to avoid burnout.

When you leave the office, avoid thinking about upcoming projects or answering company emails. Consider having a separate computer or phone for work, you can shut it off when you clock out. It is also advisable by notifying team members and your manager about boundaries beyond which you can’t be accessible because you are engaged in personal activities. This will help to ensure that they understand and respect your workplace limits and expectations. 

  1. Set goals and priorities ( and stick to them ) 

By implementing time management strategies, analyzing your to- do list and cutting out tasks that have little to no value. 

Pay attention to when you are most productive at work and block that time off for your most important work related activities.

Avoid checking your emails and phones every few minutes, as those are major time wasting tasks that derail your attention and productivity. Structuring your day can increase productivity at work, which can result in more free time to relax outside of work. 

Importance of work life balance during the Pandemic and some tips to improve the balance especially for working women:

Yes, why there is a special emphasis on women here, why they need to give special attention regarding their work and personal life?….Work life balance will mean different things to different people even it varies according to gender wise also, it is mainly because of our different life commitments. 

Recently we all have gone through very tough times and it is under recovery stage now. And this work life balance during pandemic burdened women more than men. A majority of women found it much more challenging to manage both professional work from home and personal responsibilities at the same time than their Male counterparts. During a survey it has found that, this difficult time has induced a lot of mental health issues with the employees across the globe.

Out of all the women respondents, only 12% said the company provided support to improve and nourish their mental well being whereas 6% said they were being provided with guidance on health and well being at this time. At this moment it is very important to prioritize and balance work life. Why work life balance? As we all know, women play different roles at home and at work which can cause fatigue, stress, irritation or mental/ physical trauma when not balanced out. Maintaining work life balance reduces stress and burnout also helps in attaining more satisfaction and happiness. 

How? It all starts with planning and prioritizing: 

  1. Plan day/ week ahead: Make a to do list and also mark the date and time if required, so that you can exactly know what work to be done and when to be done.
  2. In case if some work can be done today so that it saves your time tomorrow, then do it today itself never postpone it.
  3. Become a multi tasker. As we all know women are known for multitasking it really helps to save time if we don or more tasks simultaneously. 
  4. Limit your social media time. Yes, you heard me right. The most common thing for not having enough time for anything is the unlimited time spent on social media. Make a time set for social media in your timetable and if you feel necessary use an alarm for alerting you for the time spent. We all have enough time in our life for everything we want to achieve in our life. 
  5. Invest in little things which makes your work easier.
  6. Take breaks and distribute work. When you feel stressed out watch a movie, catch up with friends. Unwinding and relaxing helps to finish the task quick when we get back. If some work can be done by your kids/ spouse/ family members/ colleagues ask them if they will be able to do it. Most time they will be happy to help. 

Last but not the least and at most important is giving time to yourself. Have a me time on daily and weekly basis. Use the time for self growth, hobbies and your personal health because NOTHING CAN BE POURED FROM AN EMPTY CUP hence nurturing ourselves is our first and foremost priority. When women are mentally and physically healthy then whole family turns out the healthy. Remember in our always on world, balance is a very personal thing and only you can decide the lifestyle that suits you best.

Other Suggested Reads: 12 Key Strategies to Achieving a Work-Life Balance

Try these 12 tips to improve your work-life balance

9 Strategies You Can Try to Improve Your Work-Life Balance

-Sowmya Hosabettu