In real terms, we all recognise the term work-life balance as the fine line we’re all walking between furthering our career goals and succumbing to stress induced insanity. In a global environment where there are increasingly fewer jobs to go round, it is easy to feel that the pressure is on to be the indispensable shining star.
Sometimes though, this can come at a heavy personal cost. It’s important, therefore, to make sure that you take a step back and realise that in order to make both your professional and personal lives as fulfilling and successful as possible, a balance needs to be struck between the two.
Before you dismiss it as concept for those who are work shy or under motivated, take a moment to look at some of the most famous proponents of a healthy work-life balance. Take, for example, the CEO of Youtube, Susan Wojcicki, who makes sure she is home at 6pm every day to have dinner with her children. Or Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, who took two months of paternity leave when his second daughter was born. Richard Branson, Founder and CEO of Virgin, not only works from home much of the year, but also encourages his staff to do so if they need to. Quite rightly, he is famously quoted as saying “find time for yourself; work hard, but also play hard”. Understand that you need to do both in order to accomplish your goals (and maintain your sanity!).
Co-CEO of Australian founded company Motion Global, parent company of ecommerce business VisionDirect, David Menning, says that “Ensuring that we allow our employees the space to achieve in both their personal and professional lives is at the heart of the Motion Global ethos. We believe that people perform at their best when they are allowed to grow and develop in both these important arenas.” The company, founded by three friends David Menning, Doron Kalinko, and Tony Zhuang in 2006, recognises and values the importance of a healthy work-life balance for the motivation and happiness of their staff.
There are three primary reasons as to why a healthy work-life balance is so important. We’ve not only listed them, but if you think this is something you need to start changing in your life, we’ve also given you a few ideas on how to achieve them.
Mental and Physical well-being are important
If you consistently put in long, gruelling, hours at the office it can leave you feeling both mentally and physically depleted. Whilst in most cultures this condition is generally known as ‘burnout’, in Japan the situation reaches dangerous levels so often that it even has its own name; Karoshi (or ‘death by over-work’). Don’t become entrenched in a mentally damaging cycle of overwork and neglect of your mental health.
Being physically healthy also drastically increases your quality of life, and physical and mental well-being are intrinsically linked. Maintaining one can help in maintaining the other. Don’t let long hours at the office impact negatively on your physical health, find time in your schedule to engage in sport or physical activity.
Employees at Unilever have access to a ‘Wellbeing Zone’, which is an area where they can either partake in free exercise or yoga classes, have access to healthy food and snacks, or simply sit in a silence and meditate in order to take a break from a hectic schedule and recentre themselves.
How to maintain good physical and mental health: Build exercise around your work day. If you’re not a gym person then try to use your commute to work as a way to exercise and stay healthy. Cycle or run, or even just get off the bus a stop early and walk that extra ten minutes into the office. It not only provides you with physical benefits, but that extra bit of time spent outside doing exercise gives you time and space to yourself, providing you with a mental ‘lift’.
Also, take the time to assess how you are feeling in-depth. If you think you’re heading for a burnout, speak to a mental health professional.
You are more Productive
This is not just a throwaway statement, it’s a fact. According to the Corporate Executive Board, which represents 80% of Fortune 500 companies, “People who feel they have good work-life balance work 21% harder than those who don’t.”
Working longer doesn’t mean working better, so make sure you take care of yourself and achieve the right work-life balance for you if you want to achieve more from your professional life. Work smarter.
How to make sure I’m more productive whilst maintaining a health work-life balance:
If possible, arrange your work hours around the times you feel most productive; if you’re a morning person then start earlier and finish earlier. Many companies now provide flexible working hours. At Colgate-Palmolive employees are given a variety of telecommuting options in order to work from home when necessary, and at Motion Global, employees are given the flexibility to arrange their own work hours in order maximise their efficiency and productivity.
Be organised, arrange your work into a manageable task list and set yourself tasks to be completed within a specific time frame. Do the most difficult ones in the morning and leave the easier ones for the afternoon when you are more tired and easily distracted. Arrive and leave at the times you tell yourself you will, and be disciplined with this; staying late at work every night will not improve your productivity. Finally, when you leave try to put work from your mind so that you are fully mentally recharged the next day.
You are More than your Job
You are at work 40 hours a week. For the other 128 hours you are a living breathing individual with many varied interests and talents. You are your relationships, your achievements, your hobbies; you are the culmination of many different things. Letting work take over your life means you risk losing what makes you… you.
How to maintain my sense of self and still achieve at work: Find your passion, be it running, painting, writing, or hot air ballooning. Focus on this when you are not at work and grow as a person. Seek out a company that is willing to support this personal investment. Companies such as Accenture and Motion Global provide sabbatical opportunities to all long serving staff members to allow them to pursue personal or charitable endeavours.
This commitment to personal growth will mean that when you are at work you are able to commit 100% to the job without resentment or distraction because you know that you are growing both your professional and personal lives, and that both are equally important.
The key to successfully finding a work-life balance that works for you is to always remember that you are both your personal and professional selves. Make sure that you nurture both, and find a working environment that does so to, in order to achieve a successful and fulfilling life.