Work takes up a large amount of time in our lives—40 hours or more a week for many of us—and as a result we are constantly seeking the perfect work/life balance. Traditionally, this meant a strict separation between work and personal life. Finding that balance has proven to be a tough feat and is continuing to get harder, especially as technology improvements have us constantly connected, making businesses active and accessible at all times. This has resulted in an integrated personal and work life for many people, changing the way many of us seek out balance. So, what creates the perfect balance or is seamless integration even attainable?
This will be different for everyone, but knowing the goals and priorities you have in your life and taking a moment to assess how you can integrate those into your schedule can help you achieve them.
- What are my career goals? Am I on track to achieve them?
- What is my top priority outside of work? What will allow me to facilitate it?
- What motivates me to work more effectively?
- How do I maintain and manage my personal relationships?
- Am I focusing on and accomplishing the task(s) I have on hand?
- Do I sleep well, wake up refreshed and ready to begin a new day?
- Am I happy at work?
- Am I happy when not at work?
From the answers you should be able to come up with some ideas about how to make changes in your life to address your goals and priorities. This will involve rethinking the traditional concept of work/life balance as two separate entities, and accepting that work will interrupt some personal time, and some personal time will interrupt work. You may end up hosting a few meetings during vacation or leaving work early to attend some event with your family. Is this perfect? Probably not; in fact many companies are not set up for work / life integration. There will always be challenges in life and work for you to deal with. “True” balance will most likely not ever be found, but a harmony or satisfaction (not simply a complacency) through work / life integration is attainable.
“Flexibility” in the work place schedule, along with the ability to leverage connected/mobile technology, is allowing for many people to find a balance and is a trend that is becoming more popular at companies and sought after by employees. It is becoming a much greater factor when people are looking for new jobs and is suited well towards the up-and-coming millennial generation, as they have been “connected” for a large portion of their lives and are accustomed to the integrated lifestyle. It appears that this integration is a trend here to stay.
Integration is not the traditional work/life image that was placed in the minds of many, but it reinforces the notion that work should be something that makes you happy and that you enjoy doing. It shouldn’t be the only thing you do, but you should make an effort to turn it into something you take pleasure in and feel achievement from while enjoying your life outside of work.
By: Renee Walrath