Work-Life Balance is a Myth
Our society is more stressed than ever before. Technology allows us to get more done, but it also demands more output from employees.
More often than not, this means you and your employees feel pressured to break the critical boundary between work and home. Bringing that report home, or answering those last few emails from your couch may seem like a good idea in the moment, but it sets a disastrous precedent.
We live in an always-on world, and, for some, there seems to be this expectation to always be available. But at what point does working become more important than living?
Creating boundaries is the only way to ensure you’re giving yourself time to relax and recuperate between work days. What those boundaries are, and how they function, aren’t decided as a one-size-fits all methodology, but rather are personalized strategies based on your personality.
Structure Your Life
Work-life balance is a myth. It is functionally unachievable. There is no magic formula to implement in your life that will give you everything you want in life. Any semblance of balance requires intentional work. But every person is different. We all have different limits on our capacity to work and play. You achieve your goals when you learn to structure your time to fit your capacity.
What are your goals in life? Do you want to spend more time with your family? Do you want to start another business? Figure out what they are because they define your actions. The more you value one goal, the more time and energy you are willing to give it.
Your life seems out of balance when you have two competing goals that both require large chunks of your time, and only so much time and energy to give. Instead of trying to contort yourself into impossible shapes and sizes to meet both goals, prioritize the one you feel you can’t wait any longer to accomplish.
Now this doesn’t mean you stop thinking about or working towards your other goals. It just means you don’t give them as much time or attention. You scale the efforts towards your goals to fit within your capacity limits instead of constantly pushing past your point of no return.
Unplug From the Digital World
Technology is like cake. It’s always a good idea until you have too much.
Software applications and portals have made it so much easier to take work home with us. And when deadline season hits, the temptation to spend time at home working is intense. The best, and easiest way to resist the temptation to work, is to set clear technology boundaries.
If one of your goals is to spend more time with family, set up no tech zones. A space or time that you designate for all electronic devices to be set aside, so that you can be fully present with your family. By setting up these zones, you remove, or at the very least lessen, the temptation to work because you no longer have the means to accomplish tasks.
If your goal is work related, put limits on when and how you work at home. Maybe you only allow yourself to work at the kitchen table or in your study. By limiting the space in which you work, you program your mind to think of certain areas as work areas and others as play areas. You also need to place time limits on your work from home tasks. If you absolutely need to work from home, set it up so that you only work an hour or two. This gives your body and brain a rest, while still allowing you to work towards your goals.
Use Productivity Applications
Another way to manage your goals and make sure you stay within your capacity limits is to use technology for goal setting, time management and learning opportunities.
Technology became so prevalent in our lives because it makes working, connecting and learning easier. Use it. There are so many applications out there to help you keep tabs on projects, stay inspired and stay on-task. Some block you from social media sites while you work, while others provide visual or agile interfaces to make project prioritization easy to create and manage.
Time management applications aren’t exclusively beneficial to business, though. Apps like SelfControl or Flipd help you stay off of technology when you want to stay focused on friends or family by blocking sites or limiting access to your smart phone. Other web applications like Trello, Asana or Google Drive make it easy for groups of people in different cities, states or even countries work together on personal projects or family events.
Build in Time to Take Care of Yourself
We all have a limited amount of time and energy to spend on day-to-day activities. But those limits aren’t always finite. There are circumstances that can drastically change the amount of energy and time we have to give to people and activities.
When you don’t give your body time to relax—when you constantly demand that it be moving—you cut down your capacity to work, play and live. The best way to build those reserves back up is to get more sleep. Unfortunately, when you’re a working parent or starting a new business, getting more sleep just isn’t feasible.
Taking 20 minutes during the day to just sit and think about nothing has similar benefits to napping. Find a quiet place and shut your mind and body down for a few minutes each day. It gives your body a chance to catch up, recuperate and get ready for the next wave of productivity.
Sometimes your brain needs a jolt instead of a break. Do chair yoga or take a walk around your office to get your muscles moving and your blood flowing. For some extra vitamin D to really jolt your system, take your walk outside and go visit your favorite coffee shop. It’s all about getting your body moving, so you come back to your desk alert, focused and ready to work.
Wrapping it up
The idea of work-life balance is a sham. Somehow we all came to believe that if we tried hard enough or found that perfect formula, we could take over the world. The reality is that we only have so much to give. Any semblance of balance isn’t achieved because you’ve found a way to balance all of the plates. You’ve just decided to take a couple of them down.