Work-life balance is a myth.
In our hyper-connected world, markets are global and teams operate on a “follow the sun” model. There’s potential for 24/7 work. It’s no wonder that the root cause of stress for 80% of employees is work!
Such environments trigger inner change for many of us. And inevitably result in a need to revisit your work-life alignment.
But what if the work-life balance was not about how many hours you spend at home or at work? Could it be about creating work-life harmony, like Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO) sees it?
Work-life harmony is making sure that both the professional and personal aspects of your life energise you to be your best at home and in the office.
Here’s how you can simply revisit your work-life alignment.
Set healthy boundaries
“No” is not a dirty word.
I recall a women-only chat in Singapore where Alison Rose, Chief Executive at the Royal Bank of Scotland, explained her strategy to revisit work-life alignment. She re-organised her business trips so that she could be in London Mondays and Fridays and have the whole week-end with her kids.
Set healthy expectations for yourself in terms of your work life. How far are you prepared to go? What is essential to protect your performance? What are the compromises you’re willing to make to keep a cool mind?
Pick your battles. Being busy is different from making an impact.
Get your operating rhythm right
Are you of those who’d rather “eat their frog” first thing in the morning? Is your performance at its peak when the sun is high: midday? Or a night owl, maybe?
One component you should not ignore when you revisit your work-life alignment is your own operating patterns.
It’s no secret that we all have an optimum productivity schedule. Having awareness of your operating rhythm is not only about maximising your performance. It is critical to create a lasting sense of contribution that will fuel your motivation.
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Learn about flow
Flow is a positive psychology concept named by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (you can watch his TED talk here).
Flow (or “the zone”) is “the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”
If you find yourself involved in deep work and suddenly realise you completely lost track of time, there’s a good chance you were in the flow!
To revisit your work-life alignment, it’s not only about finding pockets of “me-time”. It involves, too, being aware of topics and activities that get you into the flow. Can you make those a priority at work and increase your sense of fulfilment and your performance?
Develop healthy relationships
Often, it’s not so much about what happens, but who’s involved when it does.
Annie McKee, author of “How to be Happy at work” explains that:“Connecting with people boosts our mood and our morale, and friendships provide us with the emotional and psychological strength to deal with whatever comes our way.”
Social connection is a basic human need. Having friends at work can balance the negative effects of a stressful day. Having people to express vulnerability in your leadership can help you put challenges into perspective.
Rest your hungry brain
Anyone who tried to work more than 12 hours a day for a full week has had a taste of burnout.
Pushing full force does your productivity no good. A study from Stanford found that productivity declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours. Worse, it drops off so much after 55 hours that there’s no point in working any more!
Related: How to avoid decision fatigue
Your brain takes up to 20% of your total energy. As you revisit your work-life alignment, ensure you make time to rest your brain. Let it process information to avoid cognitive overload.
How? Any activity where the logic part of your brain is not much involved. Meditation or a walk in nature works great (just saying!)
A beautiful piece of music doesn’t require all instruments to play at the same time. The same goes for the way you organise your various life components.
The secret to harmonise work and personal life is to focus on what has the best potential to energise you.
Personal inquiry and starting a self-exploration routine can help. By becoming aware of how you spend your time, you can re-evaluate certain aspects of your life. And you get enough mind space to adjust your direction of travel if you find yourself off balance.
What is the one thing that keeps your life balanced? Share your story in the comments!