For years we have been searching for the right amount of work/life balance. But how many of us can actually say that we’re able to achieve this regularly? With work, family and personal commitments all competing against each other, perhaps the answer is more about overlapping and integrating these rather than scheduling our days in order to devote a chunk of time to each.
We can define work/life balance as establishing boundaries between the amount of time we spend doing work verse lifestyle aspects. Traditionally, most people have kept a clear distinction between the two in order to prevent them colliding and interfering with each other. The problem here is that we have to continually assess these competing factors and then go on to trade something off therefore making sacrifices all day long. This conjures feelings of guilt and inadequacy, as you try to rationalise decisions in your head because of where you have ranked tasks or responsibilities. But the reality is, sometimes we need to take a phone call from the school during working hours or check emails late at night after tucking the kids into bed. Having a mobile phone means we are online and “available” 24 hours a day. We are connected to both work and family life and there is an increasing grey area in our days. And with the rise of home-based and flexible workers, this is more evident now and ever before.
A work/life integration approach takes the rigidity out of our schedule. It becomes a fluid process where work and personal tasks may meet to create a logical sequence rather than allocating specific hours or parameters.
To manage our priorities and wellness better, technology can play a significant role in prioritizing and rearranging responsibilities. For example, at breakfast time work emails can be checked and responded to so you can squeeze in a treadmill session before work. If going out with friends, you could invite someone who you’d like to collaborate with at work. By doing so, you don’t neglect career opportunities because they occur in your personal time or not feel like a devoted parent because you’re stuck at work.
Another aspect to work/life integrating, is the idea of creating goals that intersect both personal and career projects. Combining these two has some real benefits like a more motivated and passionate approach because you are more emotional invested in what you’re doing. It’s a win-win!
To make the most of this, you’ll need to find out what blend is best for you as an individual. We are all going to be different, and it may vary at different times when you need to invest more in your health than your work, for example. You’ll also need to remind yourself not to feel guilty about blending. Instead, listen to your body and practise moderation in all that you do.