Work-Life balance is the topic very commonly discussed across levels in any organization whether it is small or big. After completing the education we get into a job that will help us realize our dream & get economically supported as well, after couple of years we feel that job is taking toll on our personal life and end up having burn out feeling with job and personal life. Many have assumption that “Work-Life Balance” is difficult in modern day work culture. Job takes most part of your time and you don’t find spare time to concentrate on household or any of your personal requirements.
In today’s environment you are connected with office network 24/7 with multiple gadgets. This makes further complicates the “Work-Life Balance”. I am also a victim of this for many years and realized later it is important to have “Work-Life Balance”. I am writing this to describe what worked well with me, there is no guarantee that it will work for you!
In 1995-96 for the first time another gadget got attached with me it was “Pager”, during that time I think mobile was still not in the Indian market. Till then after you leave the office the only way you can be contacted is through landline of your residence. Even these landlines were not so abundant. Waiting time was like 3-5 years to get a phone connected at your home after you register it. We all had 8-9 hours of work, post that you can spend quality time with your family and friends. Post the Pager arrival, the expectation was once you get pager message you are forced to immediately contact the person and discuss to obtain more information. If you are not calling within 5-10 minutes, you will get another pager message this I think is the starting point of intervention into your personal life. Lots of stress started building with such messages. Rest is history, today we have mobile phone, e-mail and smart phones, i-phone, i-pad and in summary you virtually carry your office desk everywhere along with you irrespective of you are on vacation, movie hall or dining with your family and friends. This has really made the life complicated, one side the technology intervention has made “World Flat” it is easier to find things, contact people, work on anything you want. At the same time inappropriate use of these tolls and gadgets made life so stressful.
One of my friend, who works in a stressful environment is always busting with enthusiasm once shared with me, what may happen he has to see two movies during the weekend and he has been doing this for many years without break. According to him, job is important and it is equally important that weekend he meets this objective of viewing two movies. It simply tells me if you are determined to do something then you can do it.
Listing down few things, which you need to do or take care will help in the better “Work-Life Balance”
1. Plan you activities with things to do list- even with so much of technology, I prefer everyday morning before start of the working jotting down both professional and personal do list, review them once are twice and be sure of the same.
2. Prioritize “things to do” and focus—mentally do this or assign number 1, 2, 3
3. I believe in doing 3 things in a day, the multiplier effect is 60 things done in a month and 720 things done in a year with assumption that you work for 20 days in a month.
From the daily to do list of many choose what 3 things which will give you peaceful sleep in the night and ensure it is done.
4. Manage your e-mail, if you have the habit of replying to mails immediately for the whole day I am sure you will only be replying to mails & no other activity gets accomplished. Suggest identifying 3-4 time slots to respond to the e-mails during the day. Even if you clear mails once a day mostly it should meet the requirement, test it and you will find got lot of time to do other things. Once the people connect with you on mail knows that they get response once a day, they will definitely tuned to this. You will also find 30-40% of mails received may not require any response from you.
5. Manage your phone calls/visitors- similar to mail have clear time slots for calls, meeting with external vendors, contacts. This will help you to organize your work better for enhanced results.
6. Delegate authority & responsibilities, when you work in a team it is important to trust your team member and delegate job/s with authority and responsibility. Define clearly what is expected, let the team member find out how to do it. Do mid-term review to check their plan of action to find out whether the project is on track or not.
7. Draw clear boundaries- work and life is another game, all games have boundaries so it is important you define clear boundaries. Most of the points discussed above relates to drawing boundaries. Whether you reply to e-mails or you meet vendors/visitors or you make phone calls etc. In delegation you clearly define the boundaries with which the team needs to work and achieve the results.
8. Well defined “Vision Board” for your personal and professional life- with this you determine what you are targeting to achieve. With clear vision in mind if you start working you will be able to lead a better work-life balance
9. Start with few non-negotiable routine things like- start the day with clear to do list, will have dinner with family at xxxx time, go to shopping on particular date/day of the month, call to friends and relatives during weekends
10. Finish your office work at office and don’t carry the same home. Only exception could is for emergency requirements, this is easier said than done. It requires lots of courage, planning and implementation skills. No one is expecting you to do the office work 24/7, it is you create that environment that work is over powering you.
11. Manage your time well-a simple assignment one could do is to list down the activities you carryout daily for a week’s time and the approximate amount of time you spend for each of these activities. Review them yourself after week and you will understand what needs to be done and where you can get more time by way of delegating the identified tasks.
12. As said earlier many think “Work-Life Balance” is difficult and start ignoring their health by way of irregular timings for food consumption or junk food consumption, less time for sleep or no sleep, no focus on daily work outs/exercise. This will lead sickness-result no work and no life. Pay the required attention to take care of your health.
One needs to spend time on one or more of the above mentioned points or identify what is causing stress/burn out and work on the same in a systematic way to address the same. Work and personal Life are important and it requires equal attention for a balanced life style.