Work-life balance, not just a hollow term but something achievableMathew J Maniyamkott
Today, I'll talk about work-life balance, or something that Indian companies consider as you work without a life condition.
So during one of my stints as a sales guy, in a Chennai-based company, is where I stumbled upon the ulterior meaning that many Indian employers attach to the term.
The boss, based out of Dubai, would have the development team work till midnight or on the trot for days without any extra pay. I was one of the lucky few who didn't know coding, so managed to escape by dot 7pm.
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It was quite irksome that no one from the development team had raised the issue about this blatant violation of work hours and employee welfare. These were some wonderful people with a family to go home to. In fact, these erratic working hours had caused some major confusion in an employee's home, where his in-laws suspected him of having an affair.
According to global research, such instances of being overworked and underpaid are rare across the world, but India's metropolitans rank at the bottom end of this 100-city research study on work-life balance. (Link)
This imbalance has been so ingrained in our systems that we don't admit to it, until and unless it becomes a cause for major concerns in our relations outside of our work life.
One factor that fuels this disconnect is technology. With technology making us perpetually available, it eats into our family time thus making work-life balance an improbable task. Loss of a job looms large over our head, stunting our ability to say a 'No' to employers in the face of exploitation.
According to the report by Arcadis’ Sustainable Cities Report, Indians work around 2,195 hours on an average every year, while, Hamburg (For The Beatles fanboys, Hamburg is where they played first as a band), the city that is in the top three, works 1,473 hours a year.
Now let us see how you can create a perfect work-life balance:
Stop striving to be perfect:
All overachievers have the tendency to make sure that everything is prim and proper. When you are a kid this is easily achievable, but as you become an adult you realise life is much more complicated than you can anticipate. Your responsibilities grow and striving for that extra bit of perfection might just be the difference between enjoying your work and putting in more hours for the disappointment of those around you. If a habit like perfectionism goes unchecked, it will be destructive for everyone around you.
Learn to say 'No':
It is understandable that you want to excel at work, in fact, that is what everyone should strive to achieve. But at the cost of what? You shouldn’t sacrifice your health, leisure time or anything essential for that matter. Learn to say ‘No’ when you know the job could be done on Monday or if it certainly isn’t your responsibility. Be polite, but make your intention felt. Learning to say ‘no’ creates certain boundaries which is important.
Live healthy and be fit:
You might be the brightest mind around, but all that brawn amounts to nothing if you don't safeguard your health, both physical and mental. It is a grave failure on your part to yourself. Make exercise a part of your daily routine, not just to make yourself look better, but to lead a wholesome life. Also, do not lose out on your sleep over hard-set deadlines. If there is a project where you are hard pressed for time, slogging it out into the night once is understandable, but it could easily drag a few days if you let it. So be careful about how your time is invested.
Set your boundaries:
Imagine going up to your boss and saying this-“Hey bossman, I wouldn’t be available 24*7 over calls and texts. I don’t want to take calls after 9pm. Even God rested on the seventh day. Hope you understand.”
This is exactly what I want you to tell your bosses, albeit in a more polite tone. Setting up your boundaries for availability is an important aspect of work-life balance. As long as you get your work done, this shouldn’t bother people.
With all that said, you need to find your work-life balance. It shouldn’t be dependent on others. There is a certain balance that you need to add to your life which only you will understand.
Gone are the days when Baby Boomers wouldn’t fret about putting in a few extra hours because jobs were hard to come by. We now live in an age of opportunities and multiple jobs waiting in different areas. Millennials want to work at their own pace and at a time slot set by them. So it's not preposterous to dream about work-life balance and work towards it.