With jobs ever more difficult to come by many of us are having to work especially hard – not only to make up for the colleagues who have been retrenched (and we all know someone), but to make sure we’re not next. That means more hours in the office – and being contactable over weekends. So how do we go about balancing all this hard work with our other, so-called real lives?
Get rid of the idea that there is such a thing as a work / life balance
The problem with using the word “balance” is that it implies that we can spread our time between work and the rest of our lives equally. Maybe it’s time to stop dividing our lives into Work and Life because the fact is, most of our day is spent at work, and mostly we have very little control over that. Work is an integral part of our lives and so perhaps instead of trying to balance everything (and failing miserably) we should make sure we enjoy our jobs, that we find meaning and some sort of joy in them. Yes, really.
Christine M Riordan, a professor of management says that “we should put everything in the same container and create a coherent narrative”. Which means we need to find a way to work that makes us happy and is part of the same way we live.
So if you are a workaholic and it makes you happy – and your family isn’t suffering or feeling neglected – then really, why are you reading this article? Go ahead and work!
Bring the happy back
“But what if I hate my job?” I hear you cry! Is it possible to change your mindset? To think of the things you DO like about your job? Try to focus on the benefits (at least it helps to pay the rent, right?) while you create a plan to find another job.
Think about ways you can add activities or people to your day that make you feel as if life is worthwhile.
What energises you at work and at home? Now try to spend more time doing those things.
Lose the time-sappers
How much time do you waste with people who sap your energy? Or on time-wasters like facebook or (my own personal downfall) buzzfeed.com (all those hilarious cat memes!)? Cut those things out of your life and you will have more energy, joy and time to spend on things that make you feel good. And if you’re getting sucked into those things while you’re at work, cutting them out will create (oddly enough!) more time for you to do your actual work and be more efficient. So you can maybe go home on time for a change.
It might feel impossible to fit in exercise when you are feeling so swamped with work. But you know that when you move your body you feel more energetic and alert – and so more able to get stuff done. I have a colleague who goes to the gym every morning before work. And she is always happy and glowing and looks fabulous. And she’s 60. Exercise works.
Manage yourself and your time
If you don’t plan how you are going to spend your time and what you are going to do, you will drift from one thing to another until it’s home time (if you’re at work) or until it’s time to go to work (if you are somewhere else). Have some goals. And then be flexible about them.