Work–life balance is a concept which seeks to find an equilibrium between one’s work (career and ambition) and one’s lifestyle (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation). Is this attainable? Yes! Because it is a lifestyle choice.
Too often, people believe that to achieve success, they must give up their personal life. Today, because of job security most people have made unhealthy choices to focus more on work-related chores and goals and have neglected other important areas of their lives. Time with family and friends, personal development, socialization, wealth creation, hobbies, your health and career are all very important. Sometimes you need to step out, get some fresh air and remind yourself of who you are and who you want to be.
You cannot do a good job if your job is all you do; so how can you achieve a healthy work-life balance?
Set your priorities. Know the differences between personal life goals and professional goals. Figure out what you want your priorities to be, not what you think they should be. Discover what is important and what is not. Stop saying “I’m too busy” and find ways to create a harmonious work-life balance by taking into consideration people, experiences and events that add value to your life. When people or things are important to you, make time for them and avoid giving the excuse of being busy all the time.
Work on your time management skills. After getting to know your priorities and proper planning, it is important to manage your time according to your priorities. Keep a focus on work when you are at work, wrap up and close on time and use the extra hours to enjoy life. Going according to a schedule ensures that your work does not eat into your personal life. Some people can stay buried in their work even after office hours are over because they have a lot of tasks to do. When you keep a to-do list, you will be able to keep track of your tasks and achievements. Look out for distractions and time wasters and get rid of them. Proper planning serves as means to achieve work-life balance. Have flexible working arrangements.
Do the job you love. Steve Jobs rightly puts it, ‘’The only way to do great work is to do what you love’’. When you are in a job you do not enjoy doing, you feel stressed and unhappy most of the time. It affects your mental and emotional well-being. Look out for tasks and projects you enjoy doing. Make sure you let your employer know the responsibilities you can take on and deliver with enthusiasm, passion and a sense of fulfilment. If you are not happy with your job and it is negatively affecting other important aspects of your life, do well to get to know yourself and the jobs you particularly enjoy doing and get into them.
Do not be afraid to say no. You cannot take on every task that comes your way, be it a voluntary service or at the workplace. Yes, you may be nice but there comes that time when you must say no to things that would not be of any immediate benefit to you and your goals. Many people say yes even when they know deep within that they are taking on more than they can do; they might appear happy on the outside, but on the inside, they’re feeling burnt out, resentful, and depressed. Do well to empathise with the person while you say no.
Make time for fun. Times without number, we have heard this saying, ‘’All work and no play make Jack a dull boy’’. You cannot stay buried in work and professional goals all your life and abandon your hobbies, social life and interests. Taking time off to have some fun with family and friends, relaxation, sight-seeing or touring helps to recuperate. Many career-minded people think that leaving work for even a couple of hours to relax and have fun is not worth it because they feel that time spent having fun can be used to achieve another business target. This is something that happens a lot in Ghana. Many people work and do not make time for enjoyment.
Find ways to manage relationships. Do not let your desire to achieve career milestones override your relationship with family and friends. A balance between work and life is the key to happiness. Busy work schedules and chasing of career goals have destroyed many relationships. Never neglect your family for business; You can love your job but your job cannot love you back. Family and friends will be there for you long after that job is gone.
Stay healthy and exercise. Many people focus too much on work and find it difficult to stay healthy and exercise. Though we say we are busy, we still make time for crucial activities like sleeping, taking a shower, attending to nature’s call, eating and above all exercising. One thing that helps to reduce stress is exercise. Eating healthy is also essential in maintaining a work-life balance. Eating junk foods after getting home late from work is not an advisable practice. Many employees would say they have no option but as a matter of fact, they do. Find time in your busy work schedule to eat healthily and exercise.
Work-life balance is assisted by employers who implement policies, procedures, actions, and expectations that enable employees to easily pursue more balanced lives. When you pursue a work-life balance, it reduces the stress employees experience. When employees spend most of their days on work-related activities and feel as if they are neglecting the other important components of their lives, stress and unhappiness set in.
Work-life balance enables employees to feel as if they are paying attention to all the important aspects of their lives.
When companies design work-life balance initiatives for employees;
- Flexible working arrangements result in reduced work overload.
- There is improved health and well-being of staff.
- Employees can remain employed.
- There is an improvement in personal and family relationships.
- There is the ability to manage work and individual commitments.
- It brings increased focus, motivation and job satisfaction knowing that family and work commitments are being met.
- Increased job security is ensured from the knowledge that the organisation understands and supports workers with family and other responsibilities.
- There is increased ability to remain competitive in career development.
One of the benefits of working is to have enough money to enjoy life. Do not make the mistake of spending your health to gain wealth and then end up spending your wealth to regain health. Make time to live healthy while you chase your career dreams. Work-Life Balance is not something you find; it is something you create.
At KUSI Consulting, we offer Human Resource Management Solutions, Salary Surveys, HR Procedure and Policy Implementation, Employer/Employee Relations Management, HR Consulting, Coaching and Counselling. Let us help ‘U’ create a healthy work-life balance.
Article by Francisca Baafi, HR Assistant at KUSI Consulting