What is work life balance? It doesn’t matter what you do, work can take over if you allow it. For that matter, so can life. Work-life balance requires life management.
Work-life balance defined:
The balance that an individual needs between time allocated for work and other aspects of life.
“The balance that an individual needs.” That statement indicates that it is different for everyone. Stage of life, married or single, children or not will all play into what a person needs regarding balance. Personality, work style, job type, and personal ability are also factors. A little research will provide a plethora of resources for achieving balance and what it actually is. Three things remain consistent.
- Work life balance is not equitable time between the two.
- Work life balance changes…and sometimes frequently.
- Work life balance is not a one size fits all approach.
When work disrupts life or life disrupts work, it is time for reflection and change. Time to evaluate the two and discover management changes necessary.
Think about your work day. What is your scheduled arrival and departure? How much time is spent commuting? How much time is actually spent working? If you just thought “all of it” stop lying to yourself. Did you check your phone? Your personal email? Your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram? Did you chat with a co-worker around the water cooler? No, we aren’t counting that as networking, not for this. Review your day for the things not work related. Now, if you still got the job done was the balance of work and life disrupted? Probably not. Those things external to actual work keep us sane. Taking a the occasional brain break is beneficial. When the job doesn’t get done, there’s imbalance.
When you left work, did you take work home? When at home, did you stop thinking of work? Were you able to do what YOU wanted to do? What if what you wanted to do was work? Does that count as imbalance? Remember, balance is based on personal need and it is different for everyone. If your life outside of work suffers because all you can think about and do is work, life and work need better management.
Establishing your personal balance is essential to success in both areas. It is extremely important to your health, both mental and physical, to find your balance. If you are unable to step away from work and recharge, you will burn out. Stress will consume life. Taking time to relax and detach from work can make you more productive. Increased productivity and efficiency, in turn, leads to less work after hours.
When balanced, work and life have a nice symbiotic relationship. Work provides the necessary resources for life needs and life enjoyment allows you to recharge for work. Let’s not pretend life is always easy and if all is balanced then all is right with the world. Not the case. It’s easy to say work needs to be during work and life takes place when the work day ends. However, it unfortunately doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes the paths will cross and creative management is the only solution.
Balance is just one piece of the puzzle. Sometimes life throws lemons and what you really need is a lime. There are so many ways to helps us achieve balance. Increasingly workplace management is coming on board with creative solutions. More on that another time.
Live life. Give joy. Be at peace.
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