Work-Life Balance: Guidelines to Setting and Maintaining Boundaries
5 Minutes read
Work-life balance is the concept that you need time for both work and other parts of life, such as family obligations and personal pursuits. According to the proverb, "all work and no play makes Jack a dull kid."
But work, or at least some form of contributing effort, whether paid or unpaid, is commonly acknowledged as essential for personal fulfilment, thus it seems likely that "all play" would also be monotonous.
Work-life balance is a concept that many of us intuitively understand, yet it can be difficult to attain.
We are all familiar with the sensation of having one side of the work-life balance dominate our days. You may also be familiar with the feeling of unfulfilled dreams and desires on the opposite end of the spectrum.
They gradually induce in individuals a vague sense of unhappiness and detachment.
In light of this, how can you effectively manage your time and energy so that you feel fulfilled and involved as a whole person? What can enable you to present your best self and avoid mental fatigue?
Work-life balance is typically used to describe a compromise. You maintain a balance between time spent on professional projects and time with family, friends, and leisure pursuits.
It can also relate to the degree of adaptability that team members perceive they possess. For instance, are you able to balance your professional and personal obligations? Can you respond to unforeseen needs? How much do work and personal responsibilities conflict with one another?
Work-life balance embraces all aspects of a life well-lived. According to the survey, many women perceive life and work holistically. As a result, they seek for employers that can encourage and support them as individuals as well as workers.
In the words of Betsy Jacobson, Author and Businesswoman “Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management.”
There is a very thin line demarcating your professional life and personal life, and even the slightest blurring of this line will result in skewed; work schedules, personal relationships and health.
However, before we get to helping you set out clear cut boundaries, it is essential to understand, what the term ‘Work-Life’ actually means.
Work – Encompasses all your professional activities (whether it is the hours spent in office or while working from home), and is generally referred to as ‘Professional Life’.
Life – Here ‘Life’ encompasses not only time spent with family/friends, but also with yourself, where you get to focus on your physical and mental wellbeing. This aspect is what is known as your ‘Personal Life’.
As mentioned by Betsy Jacobson, the key to establishing a balance between your professional and personal life does not lie in following rigid timelines for them. Rather, it lies in ensuring that both co-exist peacefully, with one not being allowed to overwhelm the other.
How can the optimal work–life balance be defined? Does That Even Exist?
Yes and no is the answer. No, since there is no single ideal that works for all of us, or all the time for any individual. It is a highly individual matter. However, we all have the potential to select for ourselves what our ideal work–life balance might look like at any particular time.
To obtain a feel for whether your work–life balance is about correct, try asking yourself two questions:
How would I define my life right now?
How would I like to define my life just now?
Whether the answers to these two matches will tell you a lot about how you feel about your life at the moment—and how far it is from the ideal.
Now, while the imbalance can swing to either extreme, the maximum occurrence is where people allow their professional life to take precedence over everything else. This is something that you have to guard against as it has some major implications, which we will look at below:
Low Productivity – You will find that though you have spent many hours working, the actual productive hours have been minimal.
Relationships Suffer – Spending quality time with family and friends takes a backseat.
Lack of Sleep – The variations in sleeping patterns will lead to low energy levels.
Skipping Meals – You may end up binging on unhealthy food stuffs.
Lack of Physical Activity – The lack of any physical activity, whether walking, gyming or even a hobby like gardening, compounds the adverse effects on your health.
Burnout – There is a higher risk of either physical or emotional issues caused by overwork.
You do not have to undergo any of the above-mentioned trials and tribulations, if you follow the given guidelines; on how to balance your professional and personal life:
The following video will help you relax and stretch your muscles:
Having a clear strategy helps maximize productivity, while minimising working hours. You could do the following:
Schedule - Set a realistic timetable with tasks to be completed (in order of importance), within a certain timeframe and stick to it.
Prioritize - Starting the day with the most important tasks will help you make remarkable progress (since you are in a more alert state of mind).
Enforced Cut-off Time - Once you have decided on the cut-off time, adhere to it strictly and don’t give into the temptation to continue working. Turn off your laptop and leave your designated work area.
Intermittent Exercise - After every 30 minutes at your workstation, get up and walk around the room for a couple of minutes, you can also do some stretches.
As mentioned above there is no fixed timeframe for work and life. So, go ahead and foster personal relationships by using your breaks in the following ways:
Set aside a couple of times during the course of office hours where you take a break to chat with colleagues over a cup of coffee (try not to let it extend beyond the time frame).
Use your lunch break to catch up with friends:
You can also enjoy a quick lunch and then use the remaining time to step out for a walk with friends/colleagues.
Alternatively, you can spend quality “Me Time”, by finding a quiet spot to do a spot of reading, meditation or anything else you enjoy doing.
Use your commute time, to listen to your favorite music, podcast or even audio books.
On reaching home, make it a point to not answer work related calls, messages or e-mails. You can revert to the calls or messages, the next day when you are back in office.
Instead spend quality time with family, by doing the following:
Play games (indoor board games or even a game of football).
Catch up on what each family member did during the day.
Cook together and sit down as a family for dinner.
Have a Friday movie night.
Step out for a short walk after dinner, as it will help you relax before you turn in for the night.
Catch up with extended family and friends during the weekends.
Go on a weekend trip.
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