The age-old question – Work to live or live to work? Where is the balance?
I don’t have time for_____.
How many times have you uttered these words, either out loud to a friend or to yourself? When you feel this way, it’s a wake-up call to re-evaluate your priorities. How about taking a quiz to find out how well you are balancing the demands of your work and family?
For the statements below, rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5.
Add up your total for each category and then add up those totals for an overall score for all categories. Let’s get started: Know your balance
- Your family complains that you don’t spend enough time with them. _____
- You are resentful for having responsibilities at home. _____
- You expect your family to adapt to your personal or work schedule. _____
- You often feel worried about your family’s needs. _____
- Total for category: _____
- You worry that your job interferes with your family or personal needs. _____
- You feel guilty about the time you spend at work, or for work. _____
- It bothers you to bring work home. _____
- You feel dissatisfied with your current income. _____
- Total for category: _____
- You feel guilty when you take a vacation. _____
- You yearn for a holiday. _____
- When it comes to doing things or activities, you feel you never get to do what you like. _____
- You feel that you never have enough time for yourself. _____
- Total for category: _____
- Total for all categories: _____
Here’s what your score says:
- If your total score is less than 20: You have learned to balance family, work and your needs.
- A total score of 21–30: You have managed a good balance with some need for improvement.
- If your total score is 31–40: You have a fair balance with areas for improvement.
- A total score of 41–50: You are having trouble managing your family, work and personal needs.
If you are in the 40-50 bracket, then this article is for you. Now sit back, relax and read.
If you frequent bookstores, you’d have noticed that the self-help books section is devoted to books on work, life and the art of balancing it. The irony is that most times we do not even find the time to read a book or two. Are we really that occupied? Do we really have so much on our plates that we fail to manage work, family and a social life?
I remember as a kid, I’d see my mother multitask effortlessly. She never complained about the work-life imbalance. However, cut-throat competition, social validation and extreme ambitions prevail nowadays. Be it work life or social life, numbers matter. There’s a lot of pressure to be overly productive and successful. We run behind the numbers, forgetting our own selves and the purpose of our lives. Goals are important in one’s life. But it shouldn’t stand in the way of being able to allocate time to do things we love. That is where the art of balancing comes in. Since we celebrated Mental Health Awareness Week in October, I find it appropriate to write a piece on how to handle work and life and strike that elusive balance.
To begin with, do you think work-life balance is scheduling an equal number of hours for your work and personal activities? That is unrealistic. But when you have achieved and enjoyed something at work and your personal life, wouldn’t you find that to be more fulfilling? This may seem simple, but this fulfillment is difficult to find, for most of us. This forms the core of the art of balancing work and life.
We have a fair understanding of the word ‘Achievement’. Enjoyment doesn’t just mean being happy. It is about a feeling of pride, satisfaction, zero stress and a sense of wellbeing. To put it simply, a meaningful definition for work-life balance will be “Achievement and Enjoyment in Work, Family, Friends, Self and in whatever you do.”
So, ask yourself now, when was the last time you Achieved and Enjoyed something at work? What about with your family? And most importantly, how recently have you Achieved and Enjoyed something just for yourself?
At work you can create your own Work-Life Balance by making sure you not only Achieve, but also enjoy and pass on the happiness to others. Say, if nobody pats you on the back today, pat yourself on the back. And help others do the same. That would surely bring a smile on your face and on the person who receives it. When you are a person who not only gets things done, but also enjoys doing, it attracts people to you. They want you on their team and they want to be on your team.
So how do you fill your day with achievement and enjoyment?
- Take advantage of ‘Me time’ – ‘Me time’ doesn’treally have to be a day at a spa. Squeeze in some time in between your busy day to relax. It could be as simple as sketching or writing a journal, calling up an old friend or taking yourself for out for a nice lunch. These not only boost your endorphins but also relax your muscles and help you focus on the tasks ahead.
- Learn to say ‘NO’ – There’s always going to beanother email or an assignment from your boss or your client but saying no politely will never make you a bad person. Reluctantly accepting a task and then fretting about meeting the deadline is only going to stress you out. Wouldn’t it be easier to say a polite no in the first place with a proper reason? Remember that it is better to say no now than be resentful later.
- Make plans – Plans and schedules always helpsin reducing stress at work and in personal life. Keep your plans realistic. Make your plans in these buckets – work, family, chores, fun. Focus on eliminating unimportant tasks and activities that distract you and drain your time.
- Set your boundaries – Identify your priorities atwork and in personal life. Draw firm boundaries, so that you devote time to your priorities. Trim down those activities that are distracting. Let go of things that you can’t tend to.
- Reduce stress at work – Do you recollectthe phrase that is associated with the theory of relativity, a hot stove and a pretty girl? or to put it another way, walking ten minutes with a nagging wife or husband can be stressful, causing more fatigue than walking ten miles with an adoring sweetheart. Now relate that with work. We rarely get stressed when we are doing something interesting and exciting. When you start enjoying your work, it becomes less stressful. Where your interests are, there lies your energy.
Balancing Work and Life Balance isn’t something that you find time for. It is something you achieve, enjoy and create. It’s about drawing boundaries, taking time, making choices, sitting back, letting go and relaxing. Simple concepts. When they are prioritized as key components, they aren’t hard to implement. So, make it happen and strike that balance both at work and in life.