Being quite passionate about work and life balance, imbalance, integration or the many concepts we stumble upon today, I have discovered recently the work of Jeff Davidson. He’s done a lot of research and wrote a few books on achieving a simpler living, being a work life balance expert. I relate a lot to his concepts on how to balance your life to be happy.
In a world where we have an expanding volume of information coming from everywhere and on any device, mass and social media growth and just too many choices for anything, what does work life balance really mean?
According to Jeff Davidson, “work-life balance is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home life with sufficient leisure. It’s attaining focus and awareness, despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for your time and attention.”
It basically means to have time to breathe and have a sense of fulfillment at least during the majority of your every day, week and year. To achieve these, according to Jeff, we need to take care of our personal six components (or supporting disciplines) of work life balance: self, time, stress, change, technology and leisure. Let’s discuss what they mean and how to go about them for a happy life.
As Jeff puts it, you need to become the captain of your own ship, and steer for it. No one can do that for you. Being the project manager of your life can be really challenging, as the resources we have available are limited. We need to take care that we get the proper sleep, exercise, nutrients and mental development that our body and activities requires. The time we have at hand is limited, from each hour of the day to our one life on Earth. So, properly managing ourselves, our goals, our life becomes vital for a sense of achievement, happiness and fulfillment.
Being either self-management or managing other life areas, time management for a good work life balance means to know what are your priorities and what can you fit, or not, in your daily schedule. There’s a very good tool to help you be crystal clear on your goals and how to approach urgent and important tasks. It’s called the Eisenhower matrix and you can watch an introductory video here about it. The principle of the tool is that you should only take care of the important tasks. Important but not so urgent ones you can schedule in the future, urgent but not important tasks should be delegated. And finally, you should just stop doing tasks that are not important and not urgent.
Most of us face a lot of stress at work and in our daily lives as problems and tasks requiring our attention increase all the time. It becomes a challenge to adapt and to manage yourself when dealing with pressure coming from all directions and a constantly rapid changing environment. Although a lot of theories circulate related to multi-tasking, for a balanced life the best approach would be to deal with one thing at a time and avoid multi-tasking.
There is a phrase I get to hear more and more often, that change is the only constant in the world. Still, human beings are not so happy to change things, as staying in a comfort and familiar zone feels safer. That’s why living in this fast changing environment, where new methods and technology come along all the time, change management place such an important role in keeping balance. You need to take change gradually, adjusting with new things one by one. Not too fast, as you might revert back when you feel it’s all just too much and overwhelming.
Learn to work with technology and make it serve you before you allow it to abuse you. There are two extremes to this, one becoming more and more frequent as time advances. A decreasing category of people are still reticent in using new technology, and in this case they either don’t benefit of what it can offer, or lose a lot by not using it (such as a job that requires technical qualifications now compared to 10 years back). On the other hand, with the expanding use of smartphones and tablets, an increasing category of population becomes addicted to using it. They easily forget what is normal and fall into the trap of wasting a lot of time in doing things that don’t serve them much. The idea is to find the balance in learning and ruling technology, but avoid letting it dominate you and taking up unnecessary things from you.
A lot of people understand by work life balance a clear division between work time and leisure time. Still, as discussed in this article so far, there are many aspects to account when it comes to living a balanced life. Indeed one of the most important aspects is having time off. Rest, relaxation, doing the activities you love, putting time into developing and practicing your passions – they all play a crucial role in having a lifestyle that is balances and makes you happy.
In the world we live in today, achieving a balanced lifestyle can be difficult. An increasing number of companies realize the importance of living a balanced life for employee happiness, and how this increases their productivity at work as well. Therefore, work life balance integration is more and more necessary as it is more and more difficult to achieve.
For now, this was an introduction into these 6 components of work life balance. Stay tuned for upcoming articles where I will write about each of these components and give advice on how to tackle each for a balanced lifestyle. If you want to make sure you won’t miss these, subscribe to the weekly newsletter below.