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
- Opportunity for growth
- Collaboration with co-workers
- Quality of work
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
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.
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