Last Updated on October 7, 2021
Modern technology is pretty awesome, isn’t it? As a society we are now more connected than at any other point in human history. We can work from anywhere, with an endless expanse of information always just a few clicks away.
There’s just one problem – this increasing connectivity also means that it’s a whole lot harder to get away from our jobs. Whereas a few decades ago, most employees would be finished work the moment they stepped in the door of their home, thanks to smartphone technology we’re able to connect with the workplace no matter where we happen to be. End result?
Tons of people are now working when they might otherwise have been relaxing.
“These days, work-life balance can seem like an impossible task,” writes Forbes contributor Deborah Jian Lee. “Technology makes workers accessible around the clock, and fear of job loss incentivizes longer hours. A whopping 94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said they worked more than 65 hours per week in a Harvard Business School Survey.”
Here’s the thing, though. Is it really so bad that people are working more? Are long hours really that detrimental to one’s personal wellness? Why bother trying to balance work and recreation at all?
The Cost Of Imbalance
Here’s the thing about work – most people are actually happy when presented with something to do. There’s been plenty of research to suggest that we’re happiest when we’re busy. People who’ve nothing on their plate commonly fall prey to boredom, apathy, and unhappiness.
Basically, they feel unfulfilled.
With all that in mind, doesn’t this mean that more work is better? If keeping busy is the key to happiness, then the busiest people should naturally be the happiest, right? Not really.
See, it’s not enough to keep busy. Simply having a bunch of stuff to do isn’t going to make us happier. Quite the contrary; evidence suggests that people with too much work on their plate end up feeling stressed, rushed, and unmotivated.
They end up spiraling down into a vicious cycle. They’re so stressed about all the work they have to do that they check out and become apathetic. That makes them less likely to work, and increases their stress.
Of course, let’s not even get into the physical impact of being overworked – poor diet, lack of sleep, lack of personal hygiene, damage to interpersonal relationships; the list goes on and on. What I’m saying here is that improperly balancing your work with your job won’t just damage your productivity. It could very well destroy you as a person.
What IS “Balance?”
Before we start talking about how you can better balance your job and your personal life, we need to get a few things out of the way – namely, the rather deceptive definition of work-life balance. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t actually mean a 50/50 split between personal and professional. The fact that such a split doesn’t work for everyone notwithstanding, it’s honestly impossible to schedule perfectly between work and play.
Life doesn’t really adhere to such a rigid schedule.
So…what exactly do we mean when we’re talking about balance, then?
Simple. It’s a workload that keeps you busy but not rushed, and healthy. It’s being able to have enough time for both work and recreation, so you feel accomplished in both.
“At the core of an effective work-life balance are two key concepts that are relevant to each of us,” reads a Work Life Balance informational piece. “They are daily achievement and enjoyment, ideas almost deceptive in their simplicity. Achievement and Enjoyment are the front and back of the coin of value in life. You can’t have one without the other, no more than you can have a coin with only one side.”
“You cannot get the full value from life without BOTH Achievement and Enjoyment,” it continues. “Focusing on Achievement and Enjoyment every day in life helps you avoid the “As Soon As Trap”, the life dulling habit of planning on getting around to the joys of life and accomplishment “as soon as….”
How Can You Be More Balanced?
On to the million dollar question. What can you do to achieve the sort of balance we’re talking about here?
Quite a bit, according to both Fast Company’s Harvey Deutschendorf and Forbes’ Lee:
Don’t Be A Perfectionist: Lee identifies perfectionism as a habit that often starts in childhood – a time when people can afford to be perfectionistic, as they’ve far less on their plate. As you grow older, it ends up further and further out of reach, eventually becoming destructive.
- Be Willing To Disconnect From Your Tech: We’re living in the age of distraction – ask yourself how many notifications and devices you deal with on a daily basis. Now ask yourself when you last disconnected from everything. Trust me – it’s actually really relaxing to do, and cutting down on distractions helps you stay far more focused, as well.
- Set Aside Time For Leisure: Self-explanatory. Don’t just put off spending time with friends and family. Make time for them.
- Seize What You Want Out Of Life- Don’t Wait For It To Come To You: According to Deutschendorf, the most successful people in the world “make deliberate choices about what they want from life and how they want to spend their time. They talk to their partners, spouses, and others who are important in their lives, and come up with a road map of what is important to them, how they want to spend their time, and commit to following their path.” In other words, they decide what matters to them, and seize it.
- Exercise, Eat Right, And Meditate: Your mind is only as good as the body that houses it – a fact which most of us appear to have forgotten. It’s high time you remember it. Take care of yourself; devote some time each week to doing so.
- Make Sure Your Goals And Passion Are One And The Same: What are you passionate about? Do your current life goals – the ones you’re actually pursuing, not the ones you tell yourself you have – align with them?
- Develop A Support Network: Everybody, no matter how strong, needs someone to turn to when they’re feeling weak. You’re no exception. Surround yourself with great friends and family members who’ll help you through the rough patches in your life.
If you were to make the claim that people today are busier than at any other time, you might not be far off from the truth. Thanks to the advent of Internet and Mobile technology, we’ve never any real reason to stop working – no motivation to disconnect from our jobs at all. For those of us who don’t really pay attention to keeping things balanced, that can be quite dangerous indeed.
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