Balancing your personal and professional life is not an easy task, it is one of the hardest challenges that humanity has been faced with for the longest time. But even though it is challenging, we need to face the truth that it is essential to do it. Some may raise their eyebrows and just say there is no such thing as a “work-life balance” and it is just another hype that existed over the years. But is it really just hype or is it us not wanting it that’s why we never succeeded practicing it?
Is work-life balance a hype?
You can read as many articles as you want to prove that work-life balance does not exist but actually, it does. Most people struggle when it comes to balance, but is it important? Before we talk about why it is important, let’s give it some background.
Have you heard about the word homeostasis? Science-wise, it is defined as any self-regulating process by which an organism tends to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are best for its survival. If homeostasis is successful, life continues; if it’s unsuccessful, it results in a disaster or death of the organism.
If we talk about the body of a human being, homeostasis is important because it is that state of stability or balance that is maintained while adjusting to conditions that are optimal for survival. So this means that our body is trying all its best to be able to adapt to a particular situation and survive. And this same explanation goes for work-life balance.
What is work-life balance, and why is it important for us humans?
When a person equally prioritizes the demands of professional life and the demands of personal life, that is certainly an equilibrium. It is important to get into that balance to be able to have that inner peace.
A good work-life balance has numerous positive effects that include a decrease in stress, a lower risk of burnout, and a greater sense of well-being.
What are some of the common reasons that lead to a poor work-life balance?
- Increased responsibilities at work
- Working longer hours
- Increased responsibilities at home
- Having children
- Not able to distinguish when to stop
- Not wanting to stop even though the bodily cues says to do so
Where does work-life balance begin?
It begins as simply as trying to understand what it is, what are you willing to change, and if you want it. Not all people are willing to adjust or even change anything that they are used to, so just this reason being, it will be hard to start anything because, in life, change is the only thing that is constant but sad to say, not all people are okay conforming to these changes.
Understanding what work-life balance means is important because this sets the tone for you to be able to execute it and of course, apart from understanding it, you need to want it because in everything we do, if we don’t want it, most likely it is subject to failure.
Also, apart from the above reasons mentioned, the work-life balance begins within yourself.
Simple steps to start creating work-life balance
- Acceptance: We need to accept that there is no such thing as a perfect schedule, perfect company, perfect boss, perfect life, and perfect work-life balance. Everything in this world is imperfect and a work in progress including us humans. By accepting this reality, we should also be realistic that it doesn’t mean it is not perfect, we will never try to do something about it. When work-life balance is mentioned, people will start thinking of a productive workday for a good few hours, and the other half of the day is spent with family and friends or even leisure activities; while this seems very great and ideal, we need to accept that it is not always possible.
- Practice and routine: In everything that we do, might it be starting a new job or learning a new instrument to play, practice and routine make it perfect. Some might say this is not applicable to work-life balance but actually, it is. Practicing and following a routine is the key to achieve your work-life balance goals. As you practice and follow the routine you chose, it prompts you to create that habit of doing it and it becomes a cycle.
- Find a job that you love: Work is considered a societal norm but your career should not be restrained. If most of the time you hate your job and hate what you do, then you can already expect that you will never be happy, which is plain and simple and clear as the sky. If the job you took is draining you, makes you unhappy, and makes it hard for you to do things that you love outside of your work hours then something must be wrong and something needs to change.
- Prioritize your health: Your overall health should always be a priority. Making sure that in everything that you do your health is an utmost priority as it is the one thing that will determine if your work-life balance is working or not.
Busy Life At Work
Life at work has always been busy and usually the main problem of most people is to draw the line of when to stop working and when to switch off. Working hard is not an issue but working too much in a way that disrupts everything in your personal life is not healthy at all.
- Taking time off in between work: Making sure that you take time to move away from your desk every now and then helps relieve the stress that you are dealing with at work. Making sure you have enough time to pause when you feel like it is too much allows yourself to breathe and think before doing anything. These breaks will allow you to recover from the exhaustion and reset again.
- Proper planning: There is no perfect schedule but planning your day and making sure you have a structure helps to organize your day. Having this makes it easier for you to keep track of what is done and what needs to be done.
- Time management: Time is the greatest gift we have so we should value it. Proper planning won’t work without time management. Most people will plan their day but will never plan the timing of what they want to do or achieve that day and most of the time it ends up more chaotic than expected. Ignoring the fact that setting time for anything we do might be a simple task or not will trap us to feel overwhelmed and at the end of the day, the feeling of not having enough time for ourselves will set in.
How can companies contribute to the work-life balance?
Work-life balance can be a two-way street for employees and companies. We need to admit that apart from the job, the company plays a big part in the wellbeing of its employees.
- Team-building Activities: Team-building is about individuals working together to achieve a common goal. Having team-building exercises will help improve the relationship between the staff and the entire company. Planning activities & exercises that bring your team together enjoyably is one of the best ways to create a better work-life balance.
- Quiet space: One factor that can keep your team healthy, happy and productive is having a designated workspace that is quiet. By this means, employees can have a spot to meditate, reflect or just take a break from the office busyness. Having this available also gives employees an area to just be at peace when needed.
- Wellness programs: Since the pandemic happened, wellness has been a buzzword that most companies want to incorporate into their system. There are many things that can be done here and are not limited to just eating healthy food, it can be in the form of physical activity and more. Having a wellness program will then set the tone of what kind of company you are and how well and healthy you want your employees to be which in the long run will benefit the employees and the company.
Benefits of work-life balance
- Reduce employee health problems: Humans have a specific endurance limit. Employees that are under pressure and are overworked can have issues that will affect their mental as well as physical health. If these things are not checked timely, it can grow into a chronic illness which can then affect the decision-making skills and productivity at work. Encouraging the employees in taking measures to ensure a healthy work-life balance will really help and as a result, employees can cope up with the stress and decrease the risk of various diseases.
- Increase employee mindfulness: Employees that are working under pressure at all times are then prone to have stress and burnout at the workplace. This can then lead to poor productivity and poor decision-making skills and sometimes arguments within the workplace. A healthy balance between life and work helps eliminate this issue. When employees feel happy, at ease, and content at their work, they can focus better and gain more control on their task, providing the best results.
- Decreased employee burnout rate: Increased work pressure is one of the major reasons why people quit their jobs. Work pressure that is increasing daily at work without break can then lead to burnout. Taking measures such as stress management can then help the employees understand which aspect of their professional or personal life they need to improve or change to make sure they will be able to manage the pressure or stress they feel.
Work-life balance is not the same for everyone. At the end of the day, what works for you might not work for someone else. But the key to a successful work-life balance is for you to know what works for you and why it is working for you the way it is. Understanding what is your priority and what can be done to alleviate the stress or pressure that you are feeling is part of the work-life balance. We need to always remember that work-life balance is not an overnight job, it takes a lot of patience to do it and we need to be consistent in doing it to practice it.