Encouraging a healthy work-life balance

Achieving equilibrium between one’s work-related responsibilities and ones personal life has been a challenging endeavour ever since the beginning of time. In earlier centuries, workers were initially exploited for their work. The recognition of this eventually led to the formation of unions and labour laws to regulate working conditions and protect human rights. Many of these regulations still exist to this day.

Nowadays, the struggle for work-life balance takes a new form; on the one hand, it is undeniable that standards have been set at a much higher level and new measures have been taken to ensure that every person in the workforce is respected both in terms of their professional life as well as their personal life, which inevitably coexist. On the other hand, it can be argued that these new standards do not suffice for the ‘new world’, one which is at a competitive level it has never been before with increasingly intricate work processes and an aggressive streamlining of all professions globally by technological advancements. During the past year, it is undeniable that the aforementioned struggle took a turn for the worse. With the enforced quarantines and the at-home working, the fine line between the two aspects of life under discussion has blurred even more. However, the upside of this is to be recognized; the importance of the said issue was not at the forefront of attention, and now it is. This has sparked great discussion and reflection for people as a collective, but also for each person individually. Indeed, through this realization, we begin to comprehend that to be content with our personal life but simultaneously maintain efficiency and motivation for work, we must learn to set healthy and necessary boundaries. Although this sounds achievable, it is much harder in practice and especially during this tumultuous period of time, our self-set boundaries can very easily be confused.

First of all, ignoring this important issue in the first place has detrimental effects on one’s qualitative and quantitative aspects of life. Living life with a work-life imbalance can certainly be the cause for irritability, fatigue and psychological instabilities, which ironically only worsen the situation by decreasing work performance and efficiency as well as satisfaction from personal life. What is more, it can cause chronic stress resulting in further health problems such as chronic aches and insomnia. There are undeniable damaging consequences that stem from this initial inability to be in the position of control in one’s routine, rather than succumbing to the practical and psychological chaos that imbalance causes. Unfortunately, the later is a widespread occurrence, and many find themselves lost more often than not in the midst of responsibilities. Finding themselves unable to put priorities and therefore being imprisoned in the vicious cycle of inefficiency.

Studies have proven that individuals often consume more time being concerned about an upcoming task than completing the task. To this end, the time needed for the job increases exponentially, consuming any potential free time and deteriorating the quality of the final outcome. The same studies highlight that a better outcome can be achieved under much less time if due control is exercised. Having established the deteriorating consequences of a work-life imbalance, the question of how to gain such control, and eventually, the equilibrium now arises.

Firstly, it is vital to understand the importance of personal proliferation as equal to the professional one. The principle that our achievements are only judged by our work results has been instilled in us since the start of our lives. The importance of academic success rests at the core of our development, especially in an increasingly capitalist competitive world. Each day should constitute a conscious effort to concentrate on what is most important and focus on performing our best at our delicately selected activity areas. Every day we must evaluate our priorities and create a corresponding to-do list that is clear, efficient, and desirable.

One way to achieve the above is to plan every day, providing for all our responsibilities and needs. If allowed, we should cut or delegate activities that we don’t enjoy or can’t handle. It sounds logical and evident, but statistics have proven that it is very often overlooked. Especially under the current circumstances, a helpful approach is to divide our everyday lives into parts, each devoted to different tasks and occurring in other circumstances and environments. One way to achieve that would be dedicating a specific area of the house as the workspace to increase focus and motivation. What is more, during the time spent in the workspace, we can dress correspondingly so that when it’s time to wrap up the workday an outfit change signals the ending of work and beginning of free time. This allows us to compartmentalize the workday and our actions, so we don’t feel we’re slipping into a never-ending toxic work limbo. In this process, equally important appears to be sustaining a strict schedule. The negative psychological impact of staying at home for continuous and extended periods of time is very likely to discourage our determination to stay loyal to our daily program. Fixed and healthy sleep schedules or eating habits are the two leading areas we should pay attention to.

Learning how to follow a self-respectful and fruitful routine is the beginning of the journey to a work-life balance, the core of a happy and successful in every aspect of life. However, such a process should be facilitated and encouraged by our work environment. In the last decade, more and more firms have started to adapt to an increasingly healthy and employee-friendly environment in the workspace with tech companies taking the lead. This means offering a comfortable and, at the same time, fun place to work a while keeping a constant level of formality and efficiency. A priority of this kind of companies is to offer their employees flexibility, which, according to studies, is the third most important requirement requested after pay and location. Flexibility can be offered regarding the when, where and how the work is done. In this way, employees are more able to coordinate their lives outside work. Moreover, another common feature of such companies is the introduction to different workspaces and several relaxation spots – such as gyms, meditation or yoga rooms, healthy food, ping pong tables and many more. In this way, motivation and personal satisfaction are harmonized for a maximized outcome.

Sources: (Business News Daily, Roche, Forbes, MayoClinic)

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