Before COVID-19 hit, only a few companies encouraged remote/hybrid work. The pandemic saw companies have their staff work from home full time. For many, this seemed like a dream come true. Now that our eyes have been opened to working from home, people who have had to go back to their offices look at remote workers and believe they are “enjoying”. But is this the case? Working from the office has a sense to it, you get to work in the morning and by 5pm you know that you are done with the day’s work. However, working from home is a different ball game. You get to work for as long as you can. We have had conversations with people who have said that they started working more when they started working from home and at some point, it was difficult to balance their personal lives with work.
What exactly is work-life balance?
Defining work-life balance today is no easy task. Literally, anyone can define what they think work-life balance should be and they may be right. In the last decade, the term ‘’work-life balance” has gained a lot of press, especially in the workplace as side discussions between staff members and their disgruntled family members. Work-life balance is a term used for the idea that you need time for both work and other aspects of life, whether those are family-related or personal interests. Remember the popular saying ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?’
Digital integration encourages an “always-on” culture blurring the line between work and personal life, with numerous people claiming they really can’t place a tag on when work ends and their personal life responsibilities and hobbies kick off in the day as most times these are done interchangeably during the course of the day. For example, the Popular instant messaging app, WhatsApp was once regarded as a personal tool for interacting with friends and family has fast become a business tool for many with the Facebook-owned platform increasing capacity to add more contacts in a group and launching a business model of the app in 2019.
Defining work-life balance involves looking at how working people manage time spent at and outside of work. The methods an individual uses to juggle all their work and life demands constitute their work-life balance. Many professionals feel stressed and not “balanced” despite consuming numerous articles on how to achieve the perfect work-life balance mix. A widespread misunderstanding is that a good work-life balance is determined by how well you do professionally. Yet a lot of people succeed professionally at the sacrifice of a balanced personal life.
Why Is A Healthy Work-Life Balance Important?
Work-life balance is a necessity, not a luxury. Maintaining a work-life balance is not only important for job satisfaction, but it can also help for more personal productivity. While the effects of a deteriorating personal life may not be immediately apparent, they gradually weigh on the mind and may eventually lead to harmful habits and general dissatisfaction. Let’s look at how work-life balance can be achieved in 5 steps for personal and business growth;
- Set Realistic Goals
We get that you want to be the employee of the year and get the biggest recommendation from the C-suite, you won’t achieve that if you keep setting unrealistic targets for yourself and faltering. Then you’d not only be battling with work-life balance, but you’d also need to do regular checks on your mental health. My daily morning ritual begins with a to-do checklist time-boxed in my e-calendar so I can track my activities for the day. With this approach, I can easily gauge the scope of the day’s job and personal responsibilities. Toward the end of each day, I take some time to assess my progress; jotting all my excesses and thinking through how to solve them so it doesn’t become repetitive. As a result, I was able to figure out what went wrong, what took too much time to accomplish, etc, and devise a plan to fix it. Be intentional, dream big but be realistic and accept responsibility for your mistakes, it’s important to recognize that you’ll make a few mistakes in the process of learning. Also, don’t forget to solicit the assistance of your colleagues, who can serve as priceless resources. No one is an island of knowledge!
- Customize your Workspace
Your workspace environment matters a lot to how you do your best work and the best person to put together a perfect work environment is you; You know yourself better than anyone else. In order to make your job easier, whether you’re working from home or making the commute to the office every day, you should customize your space to fit your needs (as long as it doesn’t inconvenience your colleagues) and get all tools you need to help you operate better and efficiently.
I prefer to work in the office because it eliminates external distractions and provides easy collaborative access with my colleagues. Thanks to COVID-19, we all had to get used to work-from-home and hybrid modes since those were available alternatives. To improve work efficiency, investing in certain office-like household items like a comfortable chair, laptop stands, and other devices that allow you to work for long periods of time without feeling fatigued is the great for working comfortably from home.
- Aim for Excellence, not Perfection
As your career progresses and your family responsibilities grow, it’s common for your responsibilities to increase. Burnouts can be avoided by letting go of perfectionism — don’t come for me yet, I know what you’re thinking.
According to experts, as life becomes more complicated, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the habit of perfectionism, both neurologically and mentally. It is better to aim for excellence rather than perfection. By aiming for perfection, you set goals so unrealistic that they become impossible to reach and you never feel satisfied. Instead, strive for excellence, the difference between perfection and excellence is that with excellence, you accept failure and mistakes and you learn from them and use your learnings to advise your next steps so you don’t make those mistakes again.
- Have a Priority List
It is possible that this is the most essential factor to finishing projects on time. Setting your priorities helps you stay focused throughout the day, whether you use sticky notes, a notebook, or a mobile notepad.
Have you met or known anyone that always takes some work home and is awake till almost midnight to finish up the day’s tasks? As work-centric and responsible as that seems, it also shows that person is a terrible time planner. By constantly prioritizing your responsibilities, you’ll be able to carve out more time for things that are important to you outside of work.
Review constantly and be realistic. Draw up a scale of tasks to be done and schedule a time frame for all the tasks, do well to stick to your timing even when you have a pending gist with your colleague or want to follow that juicy twitter trend. Personally, I use Eisenhower’s matrix to prioritize my list of tasks or agenda items by first categorizing those items according to their urgency and importance. (see diagram
To properly utilize Eisenhower’s matrix, I follow the steps below;
- First, I make a list of everything that has to be done
- Then, I identify the most critical activities; before categorizing them into long and short-term goals.
- Prioritize based on urgency and importance
- As a result, these activities should be prioritized according to urgency and importance.
- Separate conflicting priorities
- Consider the amount of time and effort it will take to finish the task.
- Schedule Intermittent Breaks
5. Don’t rest when you’re burned out, rest when your energy levels are dropping. Take regular pauses throughout the day to keep your energy levels up. Even if you don’t have the time to take a lunch break every day, try to do so. Also, get up and stretch 10–15 minutes a time during your session or take a walk in the park, while listening to some soothing music at least that’s what I do. Because of this, you’ll have more clarity, focus, and productivity.
While it’s easy to get sucked into the demands of today’s busy workspace, finding the right balance between your work and personal life is very critical to long-term success. Ignoring it can be likened to refusing to service a frequently used car — it’ll eventually break down. The best lesson I learned recently, is that ‘’Resting won’t slow you down, it will take you far.’’ Fortunately, there’s never a bad time to start and the five steps listed above can serve as all you need to get started.