As technology continues to blur the line between work and play, we increasingly find ourselves unable to live in the moment. While at work we’re probably stressing about the laundry, the unpaid bills, and the recent fight we had with our partner. Once we get home, we are distracted with answering work mails, never checked-out from the office and never really checked-in with our friends and family. This eventually leads us to be stressed at home, and fatigued and unproductive at work.
We’re not going to offer you the holy grail answer to the work-life balance. The much-coveted work-life balance means different things for different people, and changes for each person over time and evolving circumstances. What we can do though, if offer some guidelines to help you achieve your own equilibrium and solutions.
Step 1: Think big picture
As much as we’d like to ditch the job for more time with our friends and family, or forget our home commitments to climb the career ladder, we have to realize that all areas of life are intertwined. You’re going to need money you get from work to go on a trip to Bali with your significant other. If you don’t take care of your health you’re not going to have energy to do much of anything. Spending time in the office means less hours to do other things. The list goes on.
Step 2: Rate the different aspects of your life from 1 to 10
After understanding how all aspects of your life are inter-related, grab some scrap paper and rate the biggest aspects according to the level of satisfaction it gives. From a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being least fulfilling and 10 being most fulfilling. This is what it looks like for us at HealthWorks:
This gives you some perspective on how fulfilled you feel from these key areas in your life. It can also help you prioritise and focus more on areas you’d like to increase fulfilment of. There will come a day when your mother’s birthday falls on the same day as an important company event, and at that time, it is probably good to know where your big picture priorities lie.
Step 3: Prioritise your activities / tasks
If you think you can do a morning yoga session, client meetings, lunch with a mate, home-cooked dinner, some personal blogging, an evening swim, a date with your loved one, a night out with your friends, write an award-winning novel AND maintain a positive, happy disposition, think again. You are probably not going to be able to do it all. Prioritise what gives you the greatest satisfaction in the long haul and go from there. Drop or postpone the less important aspects in order to give your all to the more important ones.
Step 4: Manage your time
You will need to take an honest look at your life. Make conscious choices that do justice to the measly 24 hours you have in a day. Dissecting your time carefully will help. See if you’ve been dedicating the precious minutes to useless time suckers like social sites, procrastination, ineffective work methods, gossip, and the like. Perhaps you’ve been spending too much time checking Facebook at work, resulting in the need to finish up that project from home? Find what works for you to help manage your time. We like using the Urgent/Important Matrix to make the most out of our minutes.
Step 5: Separate your priorities
It takes a lot of discipline but you have to also treat home time as seriously as work time. We need to disconnect from work when at home in order to recharge our batteries. Make the break and relax when you are home – take the conscious decision not to continue dragging the day’s fatigue and stress.Similarly, bringing home problems to work is probably not going to result in much productivity.
Step 6: Always remember to recharge
Figure out what helps you to recharge – is it a quick jog at the local park, reading, or listening to music? We need to make time daily to do what we enjoy doing. If the happy-meter within ourselves is at an all time low, we’ll probably unable to put much into other aspects of our lives either.