Balance plays an integral role in many different aspects in life. But as you’d know, if you’ve ever been on a see-saw, is that finding that sweet spot can be incredibly tricky and fleeting.
In 2021, it may be harder to achieve a healthy work-life balance than ever before. We are chained to our cell phones, which makes it difficult to separate the two worlds, and there is an immense amount of pressure to be successful in both our working lives and our personal lives.
There are many other challenges that get in the way of achieving a healthy work-life balance, such as demanding bosses, having to work overtime, raising children, studying part-time, financial pressures, mental and physical health, and so much more. Despite these challenges, it is still possible to achieve and maintain a healthy work-life balance, and in doing so, you’ll see all areas of your life begin to flourish.
What does a good work-life balance look like
When people think of a healthy work-life balance, they often think of a 50/50 split of your time and energy between work and leisure, but this is not necessarily the case. While the time you spend at work and the time you spend in your personal life do contribute to a healthy balance, it is not so much about the time as it is about the fulfilment that you feel in both aspects of your life. Feeling fulfilled, content and inspired are sure indicators that you have achieved a healthy work-life balance.
While no one’s life is perfect, someone who maintains a healthy work-life balance will be able to adequately meet the demands and deadlines at work while still having enough time to spend with their family and friends as well as spend time doing hobbies and leisure activities. They will successfully separate their work and personal lives, not stress about work when they’re with their friends, and not bring their personal drama into the workspace. They’ll also be able to contribute to mundane lifestyle chores such as laundry, dishes etc., and ensure that they eat enough and get enough sleep. Sounds impossible Of course, there would be slip-ups and bumps in the road, even for those who have achieved an incredible balance.
The work-life balance is circular. Therefore, when you are feeling fulfilled and content in your work life, it is likely to spill over into your personal and vice versa. On the other side of the coin, when your personal life begins to suffer, often your work life will suffer as a result.
It should be taken into account that a healthy work-life balance looks different for everyone. That is why there is no ‘one size fits all solution’. What works for some may not work for others, and that is why when people work towards finding fulfilment in their lives, in whichever way that works for them, a good balance is often the result.
What are the main components contributing to work-life balance
As we’ve mentioned before, to maintain a healthy work-life balance, you’ll need to feel content and fulfilled in both aspects. However, there are many components that play a role in each aspect of your life. Your lifestyle balance components usually consist of:
- Family relationships
- Friend relationships
- Romantic relationships
- Finances/ spending
- Hobbies/ interests
Your work life would usually consist of the following factors:
- Opportunity for growth
- Collaboration with co-workers
- Quality of work
By looking at each of these factors, you may see where you need to pay more attention. By ensuring that each area of your work life and personal life is being fulfilled, you’re more likely to create a healthy work-life balance. While it can be impossible to enjoy all aspects of your working environment actively, you should be getting more out of your job than just your salary.
What does an Unhealthy work-life balance look like
Having an unhealthy work-life balance can have truly detrimental effects. As the balance is circular, as personal life begins to slip, the effects will show up in the work environment and vice versa. It can be a very difficult cycle to get out of.
Unhealthy work-life cycles can take many different shapes and forms, depending in specific situations. But a very common unhealthy work-life balance often begins with the person working too much, and perhaps taking on a second job, and working overtime, on the weekends etc. While their intentions could be good (provide for their family etc.) eventually, this overworking will take its toll. Personal life will begin to suffer, and personal relationships will deteriorate, and there will be a loss of interest in hobbies. This lack of fulfilment in personal life will eventually start to affect life at work.
People in these situations often suffer from severe stress because of the pressure they put on themselves to perform at work, as well as their deteriorating personal life. As we know, stress can lead to all sorts of issues and increases the risk of burnout.
Of course, there is the other side of the spectrum, where we see individuals indulging too much in their personal life and not paying attention to their career goals and working lives. In these cases, people often turn up late for work as they’ve been partying with friends, or don’t put any effort into meeting deadlines etc. The risk is that these people will eventually lose their jobs and come upon financial hardships. Even if they are well-off and don’t need the money, eventually, the lack of career fulfilment will also begin to creep into their personal lives.
Many external and internal factors could upset a healthy work-life balance and turn it into an unhealthy one, such as the death of a loved one, losing your job, a divorce, health issues, etc.
How do you calculate work-life balance
Is there a way in which work-life balance can be accurately calculated There have been many groups that have come up with innovative ways to measure the work-life balance of an individual, and determine whether someone spends too much time working, is too devoted to their personal life, or has achieved a healthy balance.
These instruments usually come in the form of questionnaires or surveys and consist of a series of questions that measure the individual’s perceptions of work and personal life. The questions are usually split up into four parts, including:
- Work-life Values
- Basic Needs
- Personal Life
There are many of these questionnaires online, and your head of HR should also be able to point you in the direction of relevant resources that are specific to your industry. The results of these surveys and questionnaires will be able to point out where you may be going wrong and how to achieve a healthy balance.
At the end of the day, you should also have a feeling of whether your work-life balance is off or not. By recognising warning signs and addressing them, you could prevent the onset of an unhealthy spiral.
How to achieve and maintain a good work-life balance
The very first way in which you can work towards achieving a healthy work-life business is by assessing your problem areas. Where are you spending too much time What aspect of your life is draining you the most” Taking a questionnaire and reflecting on your work and personal life should be able to point out any issues.
The next thing to do is set some boundaries and create a time schedule. You should have set times dedicated to work and set times dedicated to your personal life, and you should attempt not to let them spill into each other.
Other tips include:
- Outsource work – If you find yourself too busy with work, outsource work or employ someone extra if you are a business owner and you have the budget to.
- Prioritise your time – By assessing what you value most, create a list of your priorities and ensure that these priorities are getting enough time and attention.
- Practice gratitude – Being grateful for what you have in life, be it your job, family, friends, pets, etc., will help you maintain a healthy mindset.
- Manage your time long term – While you may have weekly schedules in place, ensure that you plan your time for the long term to include celebrating birthdays, taking holidays and working towards career goals.
- Stop comparing your life to others – In the age of social media, people are only posting their best moments. Everyone goes through highs and lows, and if you are constantly comparing your life to others, you will feel frustrated in all aspects of your life.
- Meet your basic needs – Without sufficient sleep and sustenance, you won’t be able to succeed in any aspect of your life.
It is very challenging to achieve a healthy balance and even harder to maintain it. Find what works for you, and know that fulfilment is a very important factor in success.