Work, leisure time, and family – an arena that gives meaning creates a sense of belonging but also an area of potential conflict.
We want to differentiate between our private and working lives and think we can leave all private problems at home, but this turns out to be almost impossible. The balance between being professional and desiring privacy is difficult in many situations because we, as professionals, want to appear as flawless and perfect. The truth, however, is that we are influenced by what happens at home and bring it with us to work – in just the same way that changes in our work situation are brought back into our domestic lives.
Working life is rapidly changing. This is not something which is just happening “out there” – it means changes to all of our lives and the boundaries between private and working lives increasingly becoming erased. Cloud-based services and new technologies create a new flexibility in the working environment. You potentially have access to all services 24/7 and the expectations from our employers are adjusted accordingly. You have full freedom, but are never truly free.
We are in an increasingly high-tech and complex environment, with an ever-expanding pace and flow of information. Technology develops exponentially, and more people are beginning to realise the heavy burden this creates. We are exposed to high demands at work, family and, not least, our individual performances. This is a situation which seems to accelerate all the time. Stress and pressure are experienced as everyday realities and this creates an imbalance between work and private life, which in turn will affect both performance and health over time.
Five ways to achieve a better work/life balance
- Be conscious and aware of your role. One of your main goals is to be clear on what role you take, communicate this to everyone around you and then enter into the selected role 100%. Being clear on this will give you less stress and build a better ecosystem around you.
- Set clear boundaries. It is also your responsibility regardless of your role to set boundaries for yourself and to evaluate your work for a possible overload. It is a challenge to say NO when you mean NO. Give yourself permission to say both YES and NO. Define your rules and communicate clearly to avoid misunderstandings.
- Be clear in your communication. Whichever role you have, it is important to communicate clearly with the people with which you associate, whether at work or in social interaction. Unclear communication just creates frustration and stress. Communication is an art that can be developed from being good to becoming better and better…
- Provide feedback and request feedback. Request feedback on what you have done, give feedback to your colleagues, co-workers, and your loved ones. When you give feedback based on what you have seen and heard – it is the nutrient in a growing process. What you feel and think are only your assessments and subjective opinions.
- Take a break every day. It is important for us all to have some time alone to recharge. Make time for yourself. How to recharge is something you know best. This is all about what you desire. Take steps to maintain health and wellness. It is both to your own gain, and will positively affect the work you do and how well you do it in your private life.
Much research has been done and there is a lot is going on when it comes to finding a balance between the professional and the private lives. A British study claims that we need to think twice about being connected 24/7. Because workers are different and the technology can be both helpful and harmful, the use must be adapted to the individual. Some need to be disconnected from email outside work while for others it will be better to have full access. It is therefore not appropriate to set blanket rules prohibiting email outside work, as some companies have decided.
Be honest with yourself, think proactively and take measures to create an experience that’s in balance. It provides greater productivity and will be more sustainable for you and your surroundings. You can make your conscious choice to impact your own arena.