When life is busy, or all your energy is focused on something, it’s all too easy to find yourself ‘off balance’ and not paying enough attention to the important areas of your life.
Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them: work, family, health, friends and soul – and you are keeping all of them from falling.
You will soon learn that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it bounces back. But the other four balls: family, health, friends and soul are made of glass. If you drop one, they will be irrevocably damaged – or even shattered – and they will never be the same again.
Too often in the fast-paced lives that we lead, we neglect the things that are most important. Work takes over, your health suffers and relationships start to disintegrate because we don’t have the energy to nurture them. Sadly, some children grow up having a more in-depth relationship with the television or internet than they do with their parents.
‘Work-life balance’ is a phrase that has been bandied about since the 1970s. Personally, I think the term ‘work-home balance’ is a better description – or just ‘life balance’. ‘Work-life balance’ tends to infer that we go to work and we have a life.
The reality is that many of us spend more time at work than we do at home and more time with our work colleagues than we do with our friends and family, so it is a huge part of our lives.
Work is fast becoming the key way in which we define ourselves. It is now answering some of the traditional questions like “who am I?” and “how do I find meaning and purpose in my life?” Work is no longer just about economics; it’s about identity.
About 50 years ago, people had many sources of identity: religion, class, nationality, political affiliation, family roots, geographical and cultural origins and more. Today, many of these, if not all, have been superseded by work.
The idea of work/home balance is further complicated by the fact that today’s workforce is more culturally diverse than previously and also made up of different generations, each with its own set of priorities. Additionally, businesses are in various stages of their own lifecycles.
Therefore, instead of looking for a generic, standardised concept of work/home balance, we need to understand that it is our own responsibility to ensure that we implement personal strategies to help us get a better perspective on how to balance our time and energy between the two.
One important thing is the distinction between work and home – and to be aware of the negativities that can potentially be carried between the two.
If we are not careful, it can become a bad habit that, at the end of each busy day, we offload all our moans and whinges about our work day to our partners, thus infecting our home lives with the stress of work.
A good habit to get into instead is to spend time at the end of each day sharing your achievements and successes and focusing on the positive outcomes of the day.
Work and home life are equally important, and the key to happiness is about finding the right balance so that you can get the best and the most out of both of them.
Top tips on how to ensure life balance:
- Find your own balance and what it means to you
- Work out your priorities and rank them effectively
- Learn how to time-manage more successfully
- Greet the day early and with a positive attitude
- Factor in thinking time to review and evaluate
- Draw a line between home and work
- Set yourself limits and create realistic parameters
- Make time to spend with family and friends
- Develop new interests and hobbies
- Feed your soul as well as your bank account.