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What we expect VERSUS Reality;
What we expect – We all imagine that perfect 50/50 balance point between work and personal life, that alternate reality where we finish all our tasks at work and still have time left over to be well -rounded humans — you know— have a hang out sesh with friends, go home to watch the game, don the apron and cook to your heart’s content, help the kids with homework, get 8 hours of sleep, and all that.
In Reality – It’s 2 hours past your closing time and you’re only half-way done with an impromptu report due that day; you’re in a meeting with clients and your phone is buzzing with Snapchat stories of your friends hanging out at your fav spot; you get home to meet the kids asleep; you’re too burned out to cook anything so you settle for cereal; you reply a mail by 1 am before going to bed only to wake up by 5 and rush to the office to get the feedback. And this is your life every single day.
In this modern hustling world, it seems like no matter what we try, achieving work-life balance will always be like climbing the Escherian Stairwell. When you’re at work, your personal life drizzles in, and when you’re at home, your brain is still at work— it’s a tiring cycle.
Yet, as Yoda would have said, “Try, we must”. Here are 5 tips to set you on the path to a healthy work-life balance this year;
The first step to attempting a healthy work-life balance is to prioritize tasks. Determine the most urgent tasks for the day and allocate enough time to complete them. Tasks that rank lower in order of importance can be scheduled for a later date or, if possible, delegated to another colleague. This will ensure that you’re on top of your workload and deliver on time.
Once your work priorities have been defined, the next step is to plan your day around them. Not the other way around. By doing this, you will be able to complete high priority tasks first, and follow the line of importance all the way down to meet deadlines as they come. This will help limit the amount of hours that you spend at work, giving you more time to do personal things.
Next, motivate yourself by taking breaks at intervals for other activities that are not related to your job. This can even be a gift to yourself once a segment of work is completed. Besides going for lunch, you could take a walk outside to feel the sun on your skin, walk over to a colleague’s desk and chat about non-work related stuff, go for a drive, run personal errands if you don’t have the time to do them before or after work, pick up the kids at school, even hit the gym. This way, you can achieve career goals as well as goals outside of your career.
Thank God for public holidays, am I right? As a busy busy person, these days come as a bottle of cold water after a 500-mile jog. Don’t waste them. Even more so, annual leaves which are gifts from your company. Don’t reject these gifts for any reason. Use these free days to recharge – Forget about work for a while, participate in your hobbies and interests, take a trip, relax, unwind, and most importantly spend time with loved ones.
Another gift is technology. Leverage on technology to work smarter and increase productivity. For one, with technology, remote work is very possible, this will save you the hours you spend on your daily commute to and fro work. Communicate a message via mail from the comfort of your bed, have your face-to-face meeting via video technology, utilize team collaboration tools and services to keep track of tasks, and so much more.
Final word of advice — Meetings and monologues, appointments and assignments, takeouts and training, laundry and last minute adjustments, parties and presentations; whatever it is, remember that every task has varying levels of importance. Work-life balance is a conscious step-by-step process, be patient enough to tweak and adjust until you find the perfect 50/50 ratio.