Life is complicated these days. We are expected to be “on duty” almost 24/7 – replying to e-mails, completing reports, attending meetings – the To-Do list seems endless. We face demands on our time from various angles and trying to fit it all in is an impossible feat. In fact, we now work longer hours than the generation before us and the generation before that. In a recent Harvard Business School survey, it was found that 94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half reported a 65+ hour work week.
But what is the cost of all of this to us? As humans. As real people with emotions and a heartbeat.
I can tell you from personal experience that the cost is enormous! If you are going to be working more hours, it means you have to “steal” time from your non-work life. And that is exactly where it all starts to go wrong. That is where the balance between work and life goes out of whack. And it’s a process – not an event. Without noticing, we work a bit more, a few more hours this week and then even more the next week. Then we decide to drop our gym membership because “I can’t go anymore because I have to work”. Before you know it, you are saying no to social invitations, spending less time with your family, getting no exercise, spending no reflection time and all you do is WORK.
Before you know it, there is NO work/life balance.
Before you know it, you start feeling physically weak or ill.
Before you know it, your brain seems to slow down and you can’t think straight.
Before you know it, you hit burnout.
And it all comes down to balancing your time between work and life. Once the scales tip too wildly on the “work” side, there is no balance. And you’re on the slippery slope…
The answer is striking the RIGHT balance between work and life. Spend enough time on both sides to balance the scales. And there are steps we can take to help with this balancing act.
Perfectionism is bad for balance.
Attempting to do everything perfectly is, to be blunt, a waste of time. Done is better than perfect. Striving for perfection means spending a lot of unnecessary time on work which could otherwise be better spent doing something else (either another bit of work or “life” things). The first key to creating a better work/life balance is to let go of perfectionism.
Limit time-wasting activities and people.
It all comes down to priorities. Identify the things and people who are important to you and allocate time with them. Find those activities and people who are not important (to you) and limit them in your life. Make sure your time is spent on your priorities and does not reflect someone else’s priorities. Eliminating time-wasting activities and people will help to create time for those important things in your life, and help create a better work/life balance.
Set a time limit on your work day and then disconnect. Switch off the phone, tablet, laptop or whatever devices you are using. Just enjoy the moment – with your family, friends or just by yourself. Disconnecting on a regular (daily) basis helps us to recharge our own batteries and create a better work/life balance.
Here’s the thing: if we don’t get the work/life balance right, we will eventually suffer physically, emotionally and psychologically. And once we reach that point, we won’t be able to effectively do our work or life. Make it a priority to strike the right balance.
Tiana Wilson-Buys is a “Get Stuff Done” Business Coach and Productivity Strategist. She offers a free 10-Day Time-Saving Tactics programme via e-mail which you can find here.