How to Achieve Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance is like the unicorn of the corporate world. While everyone desires to achieve it, it doesn’t really exist.
With the incoming technological advancements in mobile phones, people are taking their work home with them. They are never shutting down and are available 24*7 for emails and messages. This has severely impacted their personal lives. They are either working at home too or taking the work stress to their homes.
For most people, juggling between career and personal life is an ongoing challenge. The competitive corporate world demands more and more hours to be put in by each employee.
So how should one define work-life balance? Where should they draw that thin line?
Albeit, there’s no perfect definition, there are some things to keep in mind while aiming to achieve the balance. Here are a few ways to try and maintain a healthy work-life balance:
- Prioritizing tasks
Shuffling between multiple tasks, trying to complete all of them within the deadline? It is not possible every time. According to an article by the Harvard Business Review, multitasking leads to a 40% decrease in productivity.
When the human brain cannot process all the tasks at once, what one needs to do is prioritize their task list. The simplest way to do this is to follow the urgency vs. importance chart.
Segregate the tasks as per the urgency and their importance. Listing them out this way helps a great deal in getting a clear picture of what needs to be done at the moment and what can be postponed.
- Learning to leave work at work
Brian Dyson, the CEO of Coca Cola Enterprises Inc. from 1986 to 1991, had the philosophy “Work efficiently during office hours and leave on time. Give the required time to your family, friends and ensure proper rest. Value has a value only if its value is valued.”
Often it happens that employees take up last-minute work and end up completing it during late hours. One should learn to say no to such tasks unless it is really urgent. The employees need to complete their day’s job during office hours rather than taking work back home. This requires efficiency, which again cannot be achieved if they are working late nights at home. It’s a vicious cycle, which the employees need to be aware of.
- Having a flexible/remote work culture
In this competitive working culture, most of the people are spending one-third of their time in offices. The breadwinners of the families are not getting enough time to give time to other responsibilities. Providing an agile working environment that allows freedom to work apart from the office space/hours can give an edge to the employees.
According to JLL, working remotely two to three days a week allows for a balance of collaboration (at work) and concentration (at home). Flexible hours or working remotely from home or some other place can help the employees to finish off their personal chores while completing their official ones.
- Managing time
It's good practice to create a timeline of the whole week’s/month’s tasks. This habit gives clarity on what has to be achieved at the end and what needs to be done for that. It will, in turn, help to prioritize the tasks in hand and eliminate irrelevant or lesser important tasks. Remember the urgency vs. importance chart? Creating a timeline helps in preparing this chart and vice-versa.
An article on time management by Forbes suggests that the employees can be more productive, less stressed, and can deliver high-quality work with proper time management and more time on hands can ultimately improve quality of life by giving more personal time. There are various timeline management apps and software that can help. Even an Excel spreadsheet can do the job if it is not too critical.
- Saying no to perfectionism
Right from childhood, everyone is taught to be perfect at whatever they do. But when it comes to the corporate world, one might need to leave it at the doorstep. Working on multiple tasks during deadlines means finishing off one task and moving on to the next. There’s no time to get stuck, especially while thinking about how to make the job perfect.
Marilyn Puder-York, the author of The Office Survival Guide says, with time, responsibilities mushroom, and perfectionism becomes out of reach. And if that habit is left unchecked, it can become destructive.
- Wellness should be the priority
An Employees’ health should always be more important than anything else. Burning out is a serious possible outcome of work-life balance negligence in an organization. The employer should understand the need for more recreational and self-care activities at work and should arrange for the same. Providing team outings, gaming sessions, spa bookings, etc. can motivate the employees to come to work and stick to the deadline.
- Taking advantage of technology
This is the generation of technology and anyone who is not taking advantage of it is lagging behind. Advanced software with Machine learning and AI are here to replace the mundane human jobs. Such software and apps have made work-life balance all the more possible by cutting down time and effort.
Using apps like skype for a meeting or GoToMeeting for conference calls can save time for commuting to meetings. Using software to manage or automate simple and daily routine stuff can help people in utilizing their precious time for important tasks.
Ideal work-life balance - A myth
There is no ideal work-life balance applicable to everyone. Employees need to understand their needs and requirements and define their own balance. People need to truly disconnect when they need to. According to a Cushman & Wakefield article, a proper work-life balance increases the employee’s efficiency by 21 %.
Overworking is never good. It is definitely not worth the ill impacts on health and personal lives. Work-life balance isn’t a state, rather, it is a value that one has to strive for with each decision. It is all about making deliberate and intentional choices to take more control of life.