The Irony: I’m only just learning again what Work-Life Balance should be. I’ve almost forgotten what it feels like, having spent the last 44 months in a start-up where by default everything is urgent. If I knew what work-life balance was, I’m sure stress-induced amnesia has made me forget. Until lately.
In the last one year though, I’ve had to retreat and rethink the things that are most important to me. And while my job will still be among those things, I realize that I am not doing myself, my career or my loved ones any good by not having a vibrant life outside of work. You’re not much fun when you can’t hang out with your friends without taking your laptop, or when you’re having drinks with friends and pause mid-sentence because an email came in and you have to respond because the subject has “URGENT” in it.
Not having a work-life balance wears you out quickly. You may love your job and be passionate about it even, but if you work round the clock that it always leaves you too drained to do anything else, you’ll soon start to resent the job. You’ll start to become so tired and spent and inevitably hate the thing that makes you always tired. And let’s not forget that it breeds unrealistic expectations of you, since people are used to expecting results from you, regardless of if you have to stay all night to achieve those.
You also need to have a personality outside work. I remember at a certain point in time, my entire world was centered around my job. Most of my friends were from work (which isn’t really a bad thing) and even keeping in touch with people seemed like too much work. After a restructuring at my workplace, I backtracked a bit and tried to ask myself who I would become if I didn’t have a job, seeing as most of interactions were work-related. I can’t say I have gotten to the point where I have a work-life balance, but I am headed there.
You need to have a work-life balance so that you can work on your dreams and goals. Except you own your business, or your job is your hobby, chances are that you have some goal or dream or passion that you would work on if you had a little extra time. If you have no work-life balance, there’ll never be time or energy to work on those dreams and passions. And as someone working in Human Capital once told me, only you are responsible for your choices and outcomes. At the end of the day you’ll have to live with yourself and the chances you didn’t take.
In the last few months when I’ve been intentionally trying to cultivate a work-life balance, I’ve learned a lot more about myself, and had a little more time to work on my dreams. Here’s what I did, and hopefully you can try:
- Unplug: Unplug. Log out of work email on your mobile phone
- Don’t bring work home. What’s the point in closing early if you’re going home to continue working
- Make out time for your dreams
- Have a to-do list.
- Concentrate on your tasks: This helps you spend less time on tasks, so you don’t have to work during your free-time
- Prioritize: Learn to put the things that count top of your list
Have you been in a situation where you didn’t have a work-life balance? Please share how you overcame.
Have a great week.