In this day and age – balancing between life and work becomes an increasingly challenging task. As an integral part of living – work takes up a significant chunk of time. At times it is excruciating, but there is no way around it – one gotta provide to sustain oneself.
Given the fact that the rapid development of the technologies made us online all the time – it is really hard to plug out completely and stay out of the loop for a prolonged period of time.
On the other hand, work is often related to the realization of personal ambitions and that is something that drives a long way without bumping on a doubt.
Either way, work is often engulfing the entirety of life, leaving no space for anything else. And then things go south and here comes yer olde pal “burnout”.
What is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance is an informal term used to describe how much time either of the mentioned elements takes in a certain period of time. Usually, work-life balance is measured in 24-hour cycles and refers to how much one person can do of either thing during the day.
In addition to that, the term “work-life balance” refers to techniques that enable reaching said balance. It includes certain time management methodologies, mental exercises, and such practices as “drop out”, “tuning out” and “getting out of the loop”.
In its core, it was an attempt of peaceful and meaningful reconciliation between the two conflicting parts of the whole.
Why work-life balance matters today?
These days work-life balance is basically a nonexistent differentiation. It is more of a buzzword, a mirage yearned by those who are tormented by the nondescript longing than an actual thing.
Due to instant connectivity and the increasing pace of life – in one way or another, people are working around the clock. Even though they think they don’t. And they feel quite fine about it.
- How many times you are checking your email inbox and messengers?
- Or how much are you perceiving stuff related to what you do on the job?
- Or how much you discuss things related to the work.
- Think about how many things you think are unrelated to the job you do in your spare time that actually contributes to your work.
While “working hard” per se is not a crime, it seems weird that so much time in our lives is occupied by the mandatory activity instead of anything else.
What are the downsides of lacking work-life balance?
The biggest downside of poor work-life balance is unreasonably growing expectations from the employers. If you are working long hours, prefers going overtime and practice crunch sessions – you might get saddled with more responsibilities up to the point it might be more than one can chew.
The immediate result of erratic or nonexistent work-life balance is fatigue. Here’s how it goes – you work and work and work and work and work. And during this act, “all work and no play makes the jack a dull boy” comes creeping slowly-slowly. Fatigue is something like a moveable feast. You get accustomed to it and stop noticing it after a while.
Then goes burnout. Due to constant stress and lack of downtime, the human organism just gives up at some point and requires a hard reset.
Then comes lack of social life outside of job which opens the floodgate for a wide array of psychological issues starting from loneliness and ending with the clinical depression and other disorders.
Because of that, it is important to keep things balanced out in a reasonable.
Here are several tips regarding how to make it work.
How to manage work-life balance?
1. Time Management
In the context of a work-life balancing act, time management provides a framework for further proceedings.
There are two major parts and your goal is to map out that its every element. Basically, you need to set long-term and short-term priorities regarding certain tasks before further management throughout the day.
The key is realistic positioning and achievability under normal circumstances.
In order to make it effective you need to keep in mind the following:
- What do you need to do?
- How much time does it take?
2. Set the Priorities
Knowing what you need to do when is the key to effective work-life balancing. The best way of doing it is through setting strict priorities upon each task and further managing them in a timetable.
Basically, the priorities can be broken down to the following elements:
- Long-term / Short-term – provide basic perspective for a time period
- Urgent / Important – first rate priority
- Not urgent / Important – second-rate priority
- Urgent / Not Important – tasks that can be delegated
- Not Urgent / Not Important – so-called “noise-task”
3. Monitor your energy level
While this section sounds a bit mechanic, in reality, it only means your physical and mental capabilities of accomplishing tasks.
The thing is – human organisms got its own peaks and troughs and it is important to know when they occur in order to plan certain tasks at the appropriate time.
The first step is to study your work patterns. Basically, these are three elements:
- When is your peak activity time?
- when is your low-energy period?
- When you can take a break?
Then it comes to task management. Here’s how it can go:
- Try to place the most important tasks at the approximate peak periods
- Delegate the background, auxiliary and supplementary tasks to the down periods.
4. Manage your attention
In one way or another, the secret of the effective working process boils down to keeping your attention focused strictly on the goal. The other important skills is an ability to avoid and ignore the distractions that might occur along the way. These features are both important for life and work and their merry balancing act.
However, this is no easy task considering that we are surrounded by the distractions at all times.
- there are numerous notifications that can throw a wrench into your well-calibrated focus.
- there are distractive elements surrounding your workplace, such as background murmur, overcrowded desk.
- Then there is a phenomenon of “too much stuff going through the head”.
How to make it right? It takes a couple of mental exercises. In the context of accomplishing one task it looks like this:
- Break down the task into stages (basically, pre-production, production, post-production).
- Clear your mindset and immerse yourself into the working process
- Turn off mechanical distractions.
- Set a strict deadline.
- Do the background research, prepare initial structure;
- Do the thing itself.
- Take a break.
- Make revisions.
In addition to that, it is good to know how much time which task takes in order to better plan the day.
5. Unplug / Get out of the loop
The most important thing in maintaining a reasonable work-life balance is a keeping strict distinction between the two time-wise and content-wise.
In practice this means “work stays at work” and the rest of the day is dedicated to the stuff that strictly not works (unless there’s an emergency). This can manifest to limited access to work tools at home or conscious avoidance of such.
However, it can go as far as completely changing the pace of the day after the work is over. This can be physical exercises, meditation, going out or just indulging yourself in competitive tickling.
These are some of the tips that may help you to manage work-life balance successfully without making a mess and burning yourself out.
It should be noted, that while most of the suggestion can fit anybody – you need to find your own approach to them in order to make them for you.