Dear Friends, if I am not exaggerating, after a long day at the office or business, many of us find ourselves taking out our stress on friends, children, or significant others. And if we’re not careful, we allow our work stress to become home stress, often at the expense of our families and relationships or our health.
In the UK the Health and Safety Executive found that 43% of days lost to illness were stress related. Another study, by the American Psychological Association (APA), found that the two most common stressors among those surveyed were work and money, and the incidence of stress often results in irritability, anger, nervousness, and anxiousness — all behaviors that can cause tension when brought home after work.
Work–life balance is a concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation). This is related to the idea of lifestyle choice.
In the 1800s, during and following the industrial revolution, industrialists and unions alike agreed that workers needed a day off. This later became a two-day ‘weekend’. But in those days, ‘work’ was mostly manual, and once workers left the site, they also left their work behind. They were genuinely able to rest, away from work, without having to think about it or worry about what might be going on in their absence.
Times have changed dramatically.
The phrase ‘work-life balance’ is rather more recent in origin. It was probably first used in the UK in the late 1970s, and in the US in the mid-1980s. It has, however, taken on a new meaning with the recent technological changes that have made it possible for workers to stay in touch 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Smart phones, remote working technology and the like have meant that, even on holiday, people find it hard to ‘switch off’ and genuinely rest, and the complaint is often that people are expected to be ‘on-call’ at all times, without being allowed to have a life outside work.
While some level of stress can be very productive, prolonged and high levels of stress can lead to mental health problems, including burnout and depression. These are not just personal problems: time off work for mental health problems is extremely expensive for businesses. It is well-documented that rest and, particularly, being able to detach from work is vital for reducing stress.
With almost half of people reporting that their jobs are either ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressful in a survey across the globe, this means that the idea of a work-life balance is increasingly important to the world economy.
How to make Balance?
Before you can make things better, you have to understand the problem.
Identify three to five key changes that will help you to move from ‘now’ to ‘future’. For example, if you have identified that you want to confine weekend overtime to an hour in the evening on Sunday night, then what do you need to do to achieve that?
Try keeping a diary for a week, and set out how much time you spend on each activity, both at work and outside. That will give you an idea of your current work-life balance. You may also find it helpful to separate chores, including driving children to activities, and ‘fun’.
Once you can see how your life separates into work and ‘other’, and into chores and fun, you can start to work out how to make changes to improve the balance.
Identify the ideal scenario
In many ways, this process is a bit like strategic thinking.
First you need to know :
- where you are, then where you want to be.
- Think about how you would like your life to look.
- What would be the ideal balance between work and home?
- How would you like to be spending your time?
Concrete steps that you could take include:
- Telling your colleagues that you will not be checking emails at the weekend;
- Putting an out-of-office notification on your email to remind people;
- Putting your work phone and computer away somewhere during the weekend. If your work emails come to your personal smartphone, then remove the account, or get a dedicated phone for work; and
- Telling your family what you intend so that if they catch you checking emails they can remind you.
- If you have enough time outside work, but you feel that it’s all swallowed by chores, then steps to take might include:
- Working out whether you can afford to have a cleaner;
- Asking your spouse, and if appropriate, children, to do more chores, and agreeing a reasonable split or rota; and
- Identifying one day per week which is ‘chore-free’.
Remember…it is possible to achieve a reasonable work-life balance, but you have to want to do it.
You can take control of your life, and make time for the things that matter to you, but nobody else is going to do that for you. If you want to spend more time out of work, then you will have to start leaving work earlier or arriving later.
You may need to learn to be more assertive with your colleagues, and particularly start to say ‘no’, if anyone asks you to take on more. But once you start looking to make changes, you may be surprised how easy it is to achieve a better work-life balance.However, it is also a matter of fact that despite knowing it all and teaching it to many; I am not 100% successful in my own life to maintain this balance most of the time …but I haven’t given up yet. I am trying my level best to achieve this magical balance.
Wish me good luck!!