• Tony Richards

Is There Such a Thing as Work/Life Balance?

Finding harmony between work and daily living is a challenge that we all face. The ability to successfully combine work, family commitments and personal life is important for the well-being of all members in a household. But is it really balance, the equal focus to each work and life outside of work, that we are searching for? The clean transition from one to the other without intrusion? Or isn’t it more likely about not allowing our work to trespass on our life?

Poor work/life equity can lead to numerous negative aspects:

Personal

  1. Poorer mental/physical health

  2. Threatened safety

  3. Increase stress/anxiety

  4. Less life satisfaction

  5. Higher instances of substance abuse

  6. Poor eating habits

  7. Exhaustion

Family

  1. Lower family satisfaction

  2. Increase in family related absences at work

  3. Decreased role in family

  4. Increase in marriage dissatisfaction

  5. Increase in stress on the partner at home more to handle family and chores

Work

  1. Decreased job satisfaction

  2. Decreased work performance

  3. Increased staff turnover

  4. Increased absenteeism

  5. Increased job stress level

Work life balance is at the top of the list at any professional development workshop. Not being able to manage time between work and life creates work-family conflict. Most often this occurs when workplace demands force an individual to put those above the needs of their family. However, family demands can and do create conflict in the workplace.

The workforce has changed exponentially in the last 50 years. Today 70% of children live in households where both parents work. In the 1960’s only 20% of children had both parents working. Many families not only have both parents working and full-time childcare needs, but 1 in 4 Americans are also caring for an elderly family member or someone who is ill.

In order to survive, companies must ask more and more of their employees. Requiring them to take on more roles and responsibilities within the organization. To be able to advance in a career, professionals must go above and beyond to show their loyalty and work ethic to their employers. This requires more time on the job and less time at home engaged with the family.

The ability to successfully combine work and personal life is important to everyone's well-being

Click To Tweet People working longer days and more hours increases pressure on the partner who is at home more. Statically men work more hours than women, but women do not have more free (leisure) hours because they tend to do more of the household chores. Also, women provide more of the emotional labor which is keeping everyone around you comfortable and happy – both at work and at home. A lot of the time there is an unwritten rule that women handle the “worry work”. Women are stretching their mental capacity limit because they are expected to cushion their responses, manage the emotions of others and make everything around them pleasant. And this not necessarily always a bad thing – EQ, or emotional intelligence, is an important skill used in managing ones’ emotions and the emotions of others. But it can become overwhelming. Boundaries and priorities must be set.

Ways to Improve Work/Life Harmony:

  1. Set your priorities. (Health, Happiness, Family – work, career should not be at the top of the list)

  2. Track your time. How much time are you spending on things that don’t align with your priorities?

  3. Eliminate those things.

  4. Make a list of what you want to get accomplished every day. What gets scheduled gets done.

  5. Concentrate on one thing at a time. Don’t multi-task. When you are at work, work. When you are with your family or friends focus solely on them.

  6. Do something you enjoy every day. Even if it is just for 20 minutes to an hour. Read, golf, exercise.

  7. Protect your private time. Don’t interrupt it unless there is an emergency.

  8. Poor personal habits will distract from the balance of your personal life. Eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise.

  9. Take your vacation time. Many Americans don’t use the vacation time they are given. Take the time to disconnect and recharge.

  10. Make time to exercise. Exercise is a proven stress reducer.

  11. Don’t allow technology to interfere with family time – like at your kids ballgames, dance recitals, when you are at dinner with your partner or friends.

  12. It’s okay to say no to things that will take away from your schedule. Avoid overcommitment.

  13. Talk with a mentor or respected colleague. Get advice on what they do to find stability their work/life.

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