As an Executive Coach, I see a lot of leaders going through the stress of not being able to effectively manage their career and family. The work scenario today, is highly demanding and people are facing the problem of extended working hours. The concept of a 9 am – 5 pm job no longer exists. Added to this, our smart phones ensure, that we are glued to our offices, long after we have physically moved out of the building. In such a scenario, maintaining a healthy work life balance is almost a dream.
It becomes even more challenging in the case of women. Many highly educated and immensely talented women have kept their careers aside to devote time completely for their family. This situation leads to stress and health issues in most people.
Some reasons which trigger this imbalance are :
- High levels of competence prevailing in the society. Executives, in the urge to get high ranks in their careers, keep taking up more and more work.
- A Perfectionist Attitude – Very high benchmarks for self , situations and others
- Another major reason is our global economy and dealings with international businesses. Odd working hours, to match client timings makes it difficult to have proper work life balance.
- Long working hours and no limits on the office timings are a big cause for this imbalance.
Let’s talk Solutions:
During numerous coaching interventions, where work – life balance was a strongly aspired goal, my endeavour has been work on the participant’s limiting belief systems. At the crux of this guilt ridden, unfulfilling life, is usually a powerful belief system at play – The “Either – Or” Belief, which deters us from striking a healthy chord between work and personal commitments.
Let us try and give up this extremist view (Either-Or) and replace it with a new belief which is holistic and encompassing of both spheres.
“Work – Life Integration” is largely how a person prioritizes career and ambitions on one hand and personal life including social activities, health, family, leisure on the other.
This seemingly daunting task of maintaining a healthy work life balance, may not be so difficult, in reality. A few smart moves and disciplined use of simple techniques is all that may be needed to achieve your goal – Career AND Family.
Here are some solutions you can incorporate in your life to attain a healthy Work-Life Integration.
- Never Overbook yourself with work. Set limits to the work you are taking on and then respect these boundaries.
- Efficient planning helps you use your work days, weekends and holidays effectively. When my children get their annual schedule from school, the first thing I do is to synchronise all our calendars. This way we can leverage on the long weekends and vacations and use these as bonding time for the family. All reservations are made well in advance, and that saves us the trouble of last minute woes.
- A monthly, weekly and daily To-Do list is a good habit. Make sure you don’t run separate priority lists for work and home. Life has a tendency to throw up challenges but this practice will help you navigate through them with much more ease and finesse.
- Build up your “Not To Do List”. We often end up doing work, which may seem urgent but later regret because it was not in alignment with our goals (Not important) . Consider this list sacred, and do not give into any pressure which might push you into this slippery territory.
- One of the success mantras of a balanced life is to learn to say “No”. Know when to use this powerful word, and just go ahead, use it!
- Invest time in training your team at work and staff at home so that you can delegate some of your work load. Train your kids to take up their personal responsibilities.
- Take advantage of latest technologies to reduce your work-load, hours and stress. Women can especially make benefit of the latest technology and use techniques like live video streaming for looking after their kids when out for work.
- Keep in mind that things cannot be perfect, at all times.
- Offices and companies also need to understand this issue and take an initiative. They can conduct seminars and trainings on ways to achieve Work-Life Integration. Companies are offering options like half day work, work from home and prolonged maternity leaves for their women employees.
Many countries these days have limited their working hours to increase productivity and make people happier. Sweden, has recently moved to a six-hour work day. Such initiatives by the government are also much appreciated and longed in our country. In a developing country like ours which is flooded with overseas work, there is an urgent need to look into this matter by both individuals and corporates to have a healthier workforce and future.