The idea of work-life balance is the ability to consciously eliminate disruptions in our lives, by focusing on what is most important to both our “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, leisure, relationship, family and spiritual development). We all wear many “hats” in a single day. A woman can be all of a wife, mother, chef, nanny, teacher, preacher, daughter, sister, friend, driver, employee, boss, etc. But, when she focuses 95% of her time in wearing just one of these hats, there is every tendency that the rest of the other hats will suffer.
Achieving a balance appears difficult in the very busy and complicated lifestyles we find ourselves; coupled with the daily struggle to juggle the demands of a career and personal life in a work environment that is characterised by extreme work hours, layoffs and quest for relevance.
Truth is, everything in life deserves attention, but not at the same time. Work life balance requires an element of prioritization and the feeling of being “in-charge” of one’s scheduled responsibilities per TIME. Your ability to effectively wear these several “hats” on a daily basis without letting the most important things slip, is what makes you truly balanced. The moment you lose control of this, what follows includes chaos, burnout and ultimately a feeling of instability in your work and lifestyles.
To help busy professionals and entrepreneurs strike the right balance, here are 5 strategies to help.
Determine what is important The first thing you need to do is, identify what truly matters to you. Until you are able to prioritise your work and life, everything will always appear important and things that should not necessarily be given much attention will take up space in your life and that can be “overwhelming”.
In determining what is important, you need to consider both the demands of your work, family, relationships and personal choices. As an entrepreneur, determining the goals of your organization, when these goals are expected to be implemented (short, medium or long term), who are the people responsible for achieving these goals, how do you get them motivated, track their performances towards set goals and reward behaviour, are key areas or factors you should be considering. For the employee, the key is focusing on the company’s expectations of you, how to exceed those expectations and add value and how to integrate your family and personals necessities in an order of priority.
Communicate effectively Be open about your priorities and communicate same to the people in your life (boss, colleagues, subordinates, friends, siblings, kids and spouse), do not expect others to guess what makes you feel balanced and fulfilled.
An entrepreneur or a leader, need to consistently communicate company goals and strategies to the employees that way, you get the support of everyone, drive change and achieve results. Again, I see no reason why an employee cannot communicate with his or her boss or line manager when a personal need that requires your attention outside of the office arises; be candid enough while stressing the importance of such need and how it affects your wellbeing and productivity. As a busy professional or entrepreneur, your ability to effectively communicate your needs and utilise your support network is very important.
Take control of your time To clearly understand work life balance, it is important to understand the basic principle of Time Management. It means you manage your available time wisely and make the most of it. Your work schedule or daily routine should begin with the most important task(s) in your “to do” list – that way, you expend your best energy in delivering on the tasks that yield the most value to your business or brings the greatest satisfaction to your lifestyle needs. Having excess time on your hands does not automatically translate to productivity because if this time is not efficiently utilized, you will end up using it for unplanned and unproductive things like mindless chit-chat rather, you should optimize your time by strategically scheduling tasks and eliminating distractions. A feeling of control is important in achieving work life balance.
Set Boundaries and do not be afraid to say NO A lot of times, in a bid to meet up deadlines or appear indispensable, we tend to let our work life encroach into our family or personal life. Technology, even though it has helped to enhance our efficiency and productivity, has done some form of damage to the quality of our lives.
The introduction of smart phones and productivity tools, access to work e-mails and correspondence is just a click away but if you are deliberate about achieving work life balance, you need to leave work at work! Not every email needs to be attended to after work hours or during weekend when you should be having quality time with your family. Make sure this is communicated and do not be afraid to say NO.
Be deliberate about rest and recreation Rest is not the absence of work rather, work and rest should complement and complete each other. When I have truly worked, no one tells me that I truly deserve a good rest. Likewise, an active rest creates room for creative mental stimulation.
I made a new friend recently and when I mentioned to her what my blog is about, her question shocked me. She asked: “Can I find hangout places or what to do outside work on your blog? My life is so boring that I don’t have friends nor places to visit nor activities to engage with. My family is already worried about me“.
Hmmm, the struggle for work-life balance is real. A lot of folks are so straight-jacketed, their lifestyle revolves around work, work and some work. I wonder what life will look like when you take away work from them. A deliberate attempt to create time for active rest or recreation with friends or family members who share same interests with you is what you need to achieve the balance you crave for. Recreational activities are endless and include sports, music, dance, games, travel, reading, arts and crafts.
It is possible to have a successful professional and fulfilling personal life.