The first time I heard about the struggle employees make to achieve work-life balance, I reassured myself that the experience is one struggle I’d never relate to. I was in secondary school and never understood.
Just a month after going back to full-time employment, I’m this close to being burned out. I’m terribly struggling with striking some work-life balance. And it seems to be such an unachievable feat. Phew! That’s exactly how tired I am.
What is Work-life Balance?
Work-life balance means different things to different people. Even people who agree with the same definition may conflict when it comes to real-life applications. For the purpose of this post, work-life balance is the absence of opposition between work and other life roles. It has to do with having a work arrangement that allows employees to carry on with other life activities. It is being able to balance professional or work life with family life and other life roles.
When work-life balance is not achieved there’s an imbalance which can lead to stress, burnout and eventually a decrease in productivity. Hence, there is a need for balance. As much as work-life balance is needed, employees are constantly unaware of how to strike balance while some others are uninformed about how to go about it. Technology isn’t helping matters as more employees work from home and still has work-related notifications disrupt their day to day activities. The fear of losing one’s job is real. I could count other reasons why it is hard to achieve work-life balance.
Personally, I won’t pretend to have figured it out as I haven’t. But with everything that bothers me, I seek answers. As I begin on this journey to strike some balance at work, I feel the need to carry my readers along; especially as many of them are still young and just at the start of their career. Let’s dig in.
Perfect is one word that shouldn’t exist. The quest for perfection is one of the major challenges to striking work-life balance. People who were over-achievers all through school or childhood bring this attitude to work. They always clamour to outdo themselves and others and this can constantly cause burnout. If you are going to achieve work-life balance, you have to put your quest for perfectionism in check. According to Marilyn Puder-York, the author of The Office Survival Guide, “As life gets more expanded, it’s very hard, both neurologically and psychologically to keep that habit of perfection going.”
Like I earlier mentioned, technology can make it harder to achieve work-life balance. Telecommuting is becoming more common among employees. Some check their work mail in between dinner with family, sometimes work-related phone calls come in during bonding time with family. I made that resolve when I started work not to take work-related calls at home. In just a month of working, I have taken 3 of such calls. I made a concrete decision not to log in my work email to my phone. You can make those little decisions too and follow through. You can decide to turn off notifications for work email if you can’t log it off your phone totally. Whatsoever choices you make, just realise that you need to unplug and have your personal time; time for family and loved ones and time to pursue other interests or learn skills not related to work.
Limit Time Wasting Activities and People
This is the time to take some time out and figure what is important to you. This is time to figure out what matters to you. Find out who is important to you too. Prioritise these activities and people. Since I began work, I had to cut down my activities on Facebook, it hasn’t been easy as I am an admin of a Facebook group with over 14k members. I take a longer time to reply Whatsapp messages – a few people have complained about this, but I can’t help it. I’m focusing the little time gotten from these activities to reading, taking online courses and trying to follow through a mentorship programme I just joined. We have different interests, I’m sure if you figure what works for you and which contacts you need to constantly keep in touch with, you’d be able to achieve a better work-life balance for yourself.
Change Your Life Structure
If you have worked for a long time, you most likely have a strong routine that would be hard to change. You must have built a habit that you won’t even dare to change. Change is scary. But to achieve work-life balance, you will have to make certain changes. For an imbalance to exist in the first place, it shows that something isn’t working. Those activities that you can delegate, by all means, delegate them. Those activities you engage in that doesn’t improve your life in any way, this is the time to get them off your schedule. Then replace with meaningful activities that will help you achieve the desired balance.
Needless to say much about the need for exercise. This is already an overstated issue. I lack behind in this. I told myself that I will take my fitness routine seriously when I begin work. Now, I have resumed work, and I haven’t worked out in a day. I feel the stress, I feel the need to stretch my tired muscles, but I never get along to do that. Considering how important achieving work-life balance is to me, consider this a note to myself to improve. How about you?
If you have come this far, it shows your desire to achieve work-life balance or at least improve the present situation. While I believe these tips will be helpful, there’s the need to remind you that this is not some miracle about to happen, you have to put in the work. It is a process; you may relapse at some points. You may wonder if there’s the need to try at some point. Whatsoever you do, remind yourself that you deserve this. Be patient with yourself. You can achieve a work-life balance.
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