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Why Is Work-Life Balance So Important

As we previously discussed, work-life balance is becoming such a central aspect in the workplace that many employees are more concerned with it than with their salary. But despite the obvious and significant value some are putting on it, work-life balance is still a controversial subject. As we looked at in last week’s article on the subject, the definition of work-life balance is difficult to nail down which has led to a lot of confusion and push-back on the issue.

Some suggest too much value is being placed on work-life balance, while some even argue the whole concept is damaging to the professional world. However, while the level of importance might vary depending on the person, the fact is that finding that balance is very important and one that all employees and employers should consider going forward, for their own sake.

For you

The importance of work-life balance for employees might seem very apparent, but many might not consider its necessity beyond the perceived ‘selfish’ reasons. When we speak of that balance, the assumption is that it means, stop spending so much time at work and focus more on the fun. Travel, go out, take more time off – this is where the negativity towards work comes from. Of course, that’s not the case. The balance that needs to be struck is not an equal measurement of time at work and time for fun, rather it’s finding a balance in which the work aspect and other aspects of your life can thrive together. Those aspects include health, family, and yes, fun. It doesn’t mean that four-day work weeks should be mandatory, but it means that if work is interfering with how the rest of your life operates, a balance must be struck.

Your mental health depends on the ability to escape work from time to time. Unwinding and putting your mind in another place is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Becoming consumed by work means you lose that release of removing yourself from work. This causes many people to burnout, leading to their work actually suffering from them spending too much time on it. It’s been said many times before that working excessive hours has the opposite effect than desired in terms of productivity. You are unable to ‘live in the moment’ and while that might sound like more of the selfish approach to work, it’s not. Living in the moment also means being able to devote your full attention and energy to the work at hand. Being overly focused on work robs you of that ability and the work suffers.

For employers

As you can start to see, the importance of a work-life balance goes beyond meeting the indulgent needs of employees and actually concerns a company’s day-to-day operations. Some employers are resistant to employees’ desire for this balance because they perceive it as allowing their workers to slack-off more, or in the case of older employees, it let’s them work with one foot already in retirement. However, employers need to stop considering what they will be losing to lazy employees and start thinking what they’ll be gaining from happy employees. Studies have shown that when workers have that healthy balance between work and other aspects of their life they are naturally more content at work. Fewer grievances arise from these employees. For businesses who promote such a balance, they are rewarded with longer terms of employment from workers and less turnover.

The importance of work-life balance should be evident to all involved. This is not the self-serving scheme some people seem to think it is and is not only meant to benefit the employees. If companies can take a smart and dedicated approach to providing this balance, they are able to set the appropriate terms and ensure the organization is working in a way that benefits all.

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Searching For The Definition Of A Work-Life Balance

The landscape of the professional world is changing drastically. More and more we can see the old way of doing things becoming obviously outdated and being pushed aside to make way for the new normal. The 9-to-5 work day is on its way out. Working from an office is no longer a as important as it once was. These changes will help to shape the modern working world for years to come. And at the center of these changes is the search for the work-life balance. This is a concept that is becoming extremely important for employees, and thus needs to become important for employers. In fact, recent surveys have shown that a large number of employees rank work-life balance higher than income in terms of priorities at work. As boomers age and begin to reach a transitional time in their professional life, that balance becomes more of a priority as well. But despite the major influence a work-life balance has in today’s professional world, defining it isn’t easy.

There inlies the problem with finding a work-life balance. It’s one of those terms that sounds simple and agreeable, but diving deeper into it is difficult, and that’s why some people have trouble with the concept. There’s a notion that employers are resistant to their employees’ search for work-life balance, however, like this article from Inside Higher Ed points out, employers aren’t afraid of it, they are afraid that their workers don’t know what it is. Job candidates are coming to position in search of this balance but only have a vague understanding of what it is. So why is it such a hard thing to define?

Many people misinterpret the term literally, thinking there is an actually equal balance of time to be shared by work and life. But what does that even mean? How do you separate work from life? Is it that the term simply needs to be changed to help clarify things? The truth is that the definition of work-life balance is ever-changing. It is not something that can be pinned down to a measurable thing, nor is it the same for every person. Finding the right definition of work-life balance comes down to you, your work and how it relates to the rest of your life.

What is your definition?

Think about how you want your professional and personal lives to co-exist. You know you need to maintain the professional side in order to live comfortably in the personal side. You know too much time and effort spent on the professional side will make the personal side suffer. So what does that definition look like to you? Try to think of it in the most simple terms possible. For me, the definition comes down to one work; control. I want to feel as though I have control over both aspects. I don’t want one to outweigh the other to the extent that I can’t control. What that control looks like varies quite often and is not necessarily the way it should be for everyone. But you do have your own definition of work-life balance and once you find it, you can work on achieving it– which is our next step.

Join us next week where we continue to explore work-life balance in the modern professional world.

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Finding Purpose Outside Of Work

Purpose is a hard thing to define. It’s one of those intangible qualities that everyone takes for granted that they have achieved until the day they realise it has alluded them. The best way you can hope to put some definition of the concept is that purpose is that feeling when you wake up in the morning and right away you know what you need to do and why you need to do it. It’s something that pushes you forward and gives you something to strive for – an outcome to reach. Most look for in their career, and the lucky ones who find it get a sense of fulfillment from their work beyond the salary and success.

However, there are many out there who struggle to find their purpose and there are many reasons for that. For instance, finding purpose takes a certain level of self-awareness. To be able to step back and examine your life, the important things in it and your passions is not as easy as it sounds. The day-to-day responsibilities often blind you to such simple details. That’s why people generally seek out their purpose later in life. When they’ve achieved a certain level in their career and become financially comfortable, they start to consider whether those things have really given them purpose. However, this is also a time when professionals look to establish a work-life balance, spending less time focused on their careers. So how do you find purpose when work is no longer your main focus?

The first thing you have to do when seeking your purpose is remove ego from the equation. I said above that realising your purpose takes self-awareness, but it can be hindered by being self-centered. This might seem like a bit of a contradiction as seeking your own purpose seems like an inherently self-centered endeavor. However, when your ego is introduced into the equation, it becomes less about finding your purpose and more about what a purposeful life would look like to others. Humans can’t help but compare ourselves to others and what have achieved. A true purpose has to remove all those considerations and focus on what it brings to your life alone.

One approach you should take to realise your purpose is by searching for your passion but without any expectations. A lot of us have those passions in life that, if money and other responsibilities were no longer a factor, we would devote out lives to. When work starts to become less important, some people take the opportunity to pursue those passions, and some think this is where they can fid their passion. But this is where self-awareness becomes important. You have to consider the expectations you have for this pursuit. What are you really hoping to get out of this, what outcome are you seeking, and does it seem like something that will ultimately give you purpose?

Success isn’t something you should be considering when seeking purpose. That’s why finding a purpose outside of work is achievable. When you remove the typical career motivations, financial benefits and other distractions, you can get to the heart of what matters to you and begin seeking something bigger than yourself. It’s still not an easy thing to achieve but approaching it in the right way, sets you on a path to finding what you are looking for. Good luck!

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6 Tips For Making The Most Of Your Time

I don’t think there’s a person among us who would not like to have more time. No matter how much we have accomplished and how well we feel we’ve used the hours in our day, there is always the feeling that we could have done more. As we grow older, that sense of not having enough time seems to grow and we begin to look at areas in our lives we wish we could spend more time on. Some people retire just so they have more time to spend with family. However, if you learn a few time management techniques, you might find that you have found time in your day you never knew was there before. Here are a few tips for making the most of the time you have.

Have a plan.

As with many such concepts, planning ahead is always a good first step. Making a plan of attack for the day sets you out on the right track of using every moment you have to accomplish those things that are of top priority without wasting your time with things that can wait until later. Ironically, most people don’t do this for their daily routine as they see it as unnecessarily taking up valuable time. You would be surprised, however, at how effective thig can be in having a productive day.

Don’t sit around waiting.

There are usually a few very significant moments in your day, be it meetings, events, conversations and so worth. But the majority of the day is filled with the time in between those moments. If you could identify how much time you spend each day waiting for the next big thing, you’d kick yourself. Use those waiting moments productively. Fill them with whatever you can get done in the smaller moments. Make the most of your mornings instead of just killing time before you have to leave for work. These little adjustments can add hours to your day.

Find family time wherever you can.

One of the most common things that comes up when speaking of not having enough time is family. Professionals feel as though their job is taking them away from the time they could and should be spending time with their family. It is a real conflict but sometimes people just have to look at the time you have in front of you. In the struggle of work and family, work is the immovable object where family can occur anywhere and anytime. Steal those family moments whenever you can and make more opportunities for them to present themselves.

Don’t neglect sleep.

Of course, when some people consider how they can make more time in the day, they think the obvious solution is to make their days longer. They go to bed late and get up early and think they suddenly have hours more time on their hands. In reality, this approach is likely to do more harm than good. People need sleep, especially as we age. Depriving yourself of sleep drains your energy, so although you may be awake more hours in the day, you’ll be less productive than if you just got a good night’s sleep. Even a short nap is advisable as it helps you stay sharp for the rest of the day.

Focus on the work at hand.

Staying focused is a big part of staying productive and using your time wisely. It’s all too easy to become distracted when you’re bouncing around from task to task. That’s why a daily plan is so helpful. It gives you a chance to consider what needs to get done in that particular day, so you know what to focus on and you know what distractions to avoid. If you remain focused on the essential work only, your productivity will be excellent.

Stay healthy.

What is the point of having more time in your day if you’re in poor health? No matter what is going on in our lives, taking care of ourselves and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle is one of the most important things you should focus on (if not the most important). And good health leads to more time. Just like with getting a good sleep, if we eat right, exercise regularly and cut out those bad habits, we will be able to accomplish more in a day, as well as have more days in our lives.