What it really takes to achieve a healthy and balanced work-life in an increasingly connected world.
The good news is there are successful people out there who are not working themselves to the brink of burnout or anxiety.
Burning the candle at both ends, some might say these people have found their flow, having achieved an ideal social-work-life balance. But the reality is, the majority of us find this perfect ratio a delicate juggling act, a somewhat elusive goal. Which realistically begs the question - is there even a perfect ratio of work-life balance, a perfect equilibrium at charge?
At the cost of being labelled a Feminazi, 40 hours a week at work is not the only time when the onus of small yet significant decisions falls on a woman’s shoulders.
If truly put into perspective, and in addition to the work day - a normal day for a woman might also entail booking the next appointment for their dog’s grooming; tomorrow’s dinner menu,; the deadline for sports day application; booking the flight for Easter break; doctors’ appointments and the list doesn’t stop there.
It is no wonder that an article released in 2016 was titled Why Millenial Women Are Burning Out. The article sadly states that the ‘The trend of young women burning out by the age of 30 is very real and unfortunately common.’
One of the suggested reasons for this phenomenon is traced to high expectations that companies place on their employees in always-connected work environments. But it is also largely linked to what I believe is known as the ‘supermum’ phenomenon- which is inextricably tied to the perfectly depicted lives of mothers on social media.
A more connected world
However, despite the pressure to perform in always connected environments, we should give thanks for gone are the days when performance is judged on the time you spend at work and more for the quality of work you put in. More good news.
With the changing corporate mindset and landscape of connectivity via remote employees - we are increasingly able to structure and recalibrate our own hours and set up our workday to fit our values and priorities.
For example, at VMware, a leader in cloud infrastructure, it is not unusual for employees to take an impromptu gym break or practice dance class moves in between work sessions. Similarly, Ascend HR Corp’s laid-back culture lets employees work from home and schedule their own hours, and get this- and the office even lets their employees bring their pets in.
Establishing your equilibrium
So, what are the key factors in establishing a balanced work-life and the secret to not just winging your everyday?
Become a Machiavellian about your non-negotiables.
This means being unscrupulous about your priorities, doing your important work first, but most importantly setting up a regiment for your non-negotiables. Your non-negotiables may include being a part of important family events, attending your kid's parent-teacher conferences, living up to your spiritual endeavours, or even simply getting regular exercise. Being clear and upfront about non-negotiables can help us structure our lives to make room for the things that matter most, yet without letting others’ down. What is interesting is, when you non-negotiables are well set in place, the better your personal life is, and this leaks into your performance at work. According to the Journal of Cognitive Science, research has shown that people solve insight or creative problems better when in a positive mood (assessed or induced). So, the better your personal life is, the higher your potential to do great work.
Actively seek opportunities for work-life integration
Look out for companies or workplaces that encourage eclipsing work-life with family. One such example is a well-renowned co-working space, Treshaus Singapore, set up by a group of forward-thinking and successful mumpreneurs. When interviewing one of the co-founders, the inspiring Elaine Kim, she explained the concept of Treshaus being a space where co-working, connections, and play centre merge- making it not only a mum and dadpreneur friendly community but a place where visions and collaborations are fused. Companies are also catching up on fast to the benefits of work-life integration. One such would be social media giant Facebook, which has allowed its full-time working fathers at its global offices up to four months of paid paternity leave.
The art of delegation
While you can't establish a 27-hour day, you can do the next best thing: delegate. By removing less important certain tasks off your plate, you'll free up more time to concentrate on your non-negotiables and enjoy life more. Take note - delegation isn't just for professional tasks. If you can delegate your personal and family responsibilities, you'll provide more opportunities for responsibility for your kids, find more time for leisure activities and new pursuits.
While delegating to your children is a great way to teach them responsibility, the new trend of outsourcing for home-based services is thankfully the thing to do. With a rise in delivery services, such as RedMart Singapore, Ojek in Indonesia, and companies like TaskRabbit, it's easy to hire people to take on the time-consuming day-to-day responsibilities that don't require your expertise.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)