It has been a little over a year. Lives changed, the ways we do certain things as we knew it have changed, too. Obviously, it’s not easy for anyone, and we’re all coping differently. Aside from the impact of the pandemic toward public health, businesses have faced serious problems as well. Some have completely messed up their work life balance, some have lost their previous jobs, some are barely surviving, some are trying to find and create new opportunities. Plenty of business sectors are affected, from the smaller ones to the larger corporations. Now, working from home is the new normal—but the lines of work life balance are getting blurry.
Traditional working hours have gone out of the window. Since most people are working from home, it’s harder to set boundaries between work and personal life. It’s even more challenging for the ones who have other responsibilities to do at home. Suddenly, we’re bringing work everywhere: to our bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, etc. That’s why it’s essential to figure out ways to manage work life balance.
To do so, there are several levels of control we need to be aware of. If we’re not careful, it’s so easy to lose ourselves in the process.
This is the work life balance ideal we hear so much about. It’s where we keep work and life separate and why we head for the office when we could work from home, why we put on our smart clothes, why we talk about the nine-to-five. Many of us strive for it—and sometimes we even manage to pull it off.
We sometimes try to amalgamate our “work” and “life” identities into a seamless whole. We have flexible boundaries—say, by working at home during school holidays. There can be an element of disruption, but it’s because we like it that way, and we still retain control.
When it suits us, we’re happy to import things from one sphere to another. It could be something as straightforward as talking about work at home or home at work. Crucially, in such instances we decide how much to give and when.
This is where we start to lose control. We can’t stop the two worlds from entering each other’s orbit. Worrying about work deadlines at the dinner table, wondering about the kids’ forgotten football kit during a conference—the effect can be positive or negative.
Here the sense of disorder and the consequent loss of control become significant. The impingement of one sphere on the other might be physical or emotional. A loved one being rushed into hospital is an obvious example.
Now imagine a loved one is diagnosed with a serious condition. Suddenly, the emotions associated with one domain completely overpower the other. All control is gone. Disorder dominates. There’s little hope of balance now.
Working more hours doesn’t equal increased productivity. It’s quite the contrary, actually. After approximately 50 hours a week, productivity starts to decline, because it limits your creativity and capabilities to produce maximum results. Your brain and your body need rest.
There are some things you can do to unplug, unwind, and learn to manage your work life balance:
Make realistic goals and let go of perfectionism.
Set clear priorities.
Set boundaries, learn to say no.
Create moments of stillness.
Connect with others (who are not your colleagues!).
Move around! Make time for a little exercise.
Don’t forget to do the things and hobbies that make you happy!