Fancy new phrases. But why did we choose the old school term ‘work-life balance’ as last weeks’ topic?
There is one thing we can truly say as we head towards the conclusion of our reflections on work-life balance of the past few weeks : one of our biggest challenges is to keep work and life in balance.
We have interviewed people, who had ideas about how to lead us onto a well-balanced path and we have gathered together our own thoughts and experiences too.
During the development of this topic, we did a little research on different social media platforms, asking people whether they were an ‘early bird’ or a ‘night owl’ type of person. The original idea was to find out how people adopted the home-office, whether their habits had changed in the process creating, for most of them, a totally new way of life.
Did you turn into a night owl once you didn’t have to commute or have you always been that way? We expected there to be many more early birds, but the poll suggests there are actually more night owls. But, all this isn’t necessarily significant, because we have also learned that it doesn’t matter which one you are when you have children: you will never get enough sleep either way. 😀
Many, many years ago (and I’m talking prehistoric kind of many years ago), there were numerous advantages to the various different sleeping patterns. One person had to stay awake all through the night to be certain that the others were not devoured by some beast. You can see how beneficial, useful and indeed helpful it was to have a few night owls in the flock.
To be an entrepreneur or working in an entrepreneurial environment is great, because the above-mentioned diversity is generally respected. At KassaiLaw, you can find both types: night owls and early birds (early birds won the contest among us though).
However, many more questions remained in connection with the above-mentioned inquiry into night owls and early birds. Is it a biological feature or a genetic trait? Maybe a lifestyle choice? Or is it only a mood habit or just a type of sleeping pattern? Do our sleeping habits have anything to do with our work-life balance? Can we compare individuals on this basis?
Then there is one last aspect we shouldn’t forget to mention: circadian rhythm, our internal clock. This is the system you can blame for making you sleepy at 9PM while other people are just getting into the vibe for a late night session of work. It doesn’t just function at the whole-body level that you might think you need to take account of, but in more or less all your organs and cells too.
So, the question is: what is work-life balance? How can you achieve it?
If you take a moment to think about it, your sleeping habits are one of the foundations of your work-life balance.
Nevertheless, one thing is certainly true, we are all different, still we all desire success, be it at work or at home or in both places, and we all want to spend enough time with friends and family, and to keep ourselves in tip-top mental and physical shape.
It’s a lot to handle and keep in focus, right? So, let’s talk about what work-life balance is?
That magical phrase ‘work-life balance’
If we lived in an ideal world, we could easily balance the two sides of our personal and professional life. Deadlines would always be the next day, there would be no traffic jams or you’d work from home and you’d always have time for everything you planned to do and also to rest.
The goal of work-life balance is an ideal state that we all want to achieve, it is a state in which the two sides exist in a symbiotic way, but also prosper separately, providing us with harmony and a stress-free state of mind and life that we all crave constantly.
Work-life integration. What does it mean and how does it differ from work-life balance?
According to the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, work-life integration is “an approach that creates more synergies between all areas that define ‘life’: work, home/family, community, personal well-being, and health.”
Very simply put, it means that you no longer have classical work hours anymore. A ”work life integrator” wakes up and goes to the swimming pool. After that they begin work and continue that until noon. They have lunch with friends and answer emails at bedtime. Or, so to speak, they are doing what they want, really. The only things that matter workwise are meetings, deadlines and punctuality.
This is where you bring the two sides of work and life closer to one another. Living this life means it does not matter where work-time ends and private-time begins, but one rather centres one’s focus on the ‘best time’, meaning what is the best time for doing any of those things.
Have you ever been at an important family dinner and realized that you had forgotten something at work? You rushed off to solve it and all the family were upset about it?
We’ve been there, done that.
It means that you have to stop overdoing work-life integration. Somehow our work responsibilities tend to feel far more urgent than the everyday needs of our loved ones or ourselves. As the American educator, Stephen Covey wrote: “Some of us get so used to the adrenaline rush of handling crises that we become dependent on it for a sense of excitement and energy.”
Let’s have that adrenaline rush from jumping on the trampoline with our children or hiking on the hills with our friends at the weekend, totally work free! We all need to eliminate that competition mindset which leads us to trade offs when we have too much to do and take time away from our beloved ones.
Work-life integration tends to give possibilities to opportunities and creativity in harmonizing work and life.
How to achieve work-life balance when your phone is always giving a signal?
Answering this question is how we arrived at our next, newly learned word: work-life fusion.
Simply put, it is hard to keep your private sphere if you are spending time communicating with your family members or friends at work and with your boss during family time in the evening on the same platform. Of course it is more difficult than that.
A recent study by Donna Haeger and Tony Lingham suggests strong evidence that work and life are rather becoming fused. In their article, “A Trend Toward Work-Life Fusion: A Multi-Generational Shift in Technology Use at Work,” the authors wrote: “Our study has demonstrated that use and advancements in technology will invariably affect how we manage both work and life domains. Our findings uncover a trend toward ‘Work-Life Fusion,’ which is salient and significant not only to the Millennials, but also to GenXers as they transition toward this shift.”
The researchers found that employees, especially younger groups, are expected to use social media to organize their personal life during work hours. But, on the other hand, they are much more reachable after working hours.
In an ideal world we would have enough time for work and life separately. We would sleep enough, eat healthily, and we would have enough time for family and friends besides taking care of ourselves and holding down a job. Of course it is impossible. But we encourage you to at least try it, take technology as an example, where everything can be rooted on the sideline.
Think over all the patterns in your life, starting with your sleeping habits and your job, how demanding or how flexible are they.
In an entrepreneurial environment in the 21st century we cannot hide from a little bit of fusion and integration. But let us be a little bit old school on this one, and encourage you to make every effort to at least try to reach a good, old-fashioned work-life balance. We gave and got plenty of tips during our WLB campaign, but let’s just conclude with a few more.
- Create a schedule.
- Coordinate with your significant others and family.
- Remain committed to maintaining some boundaries.
Thanks to all the contributors over the last few weeks, we learned a lot and we hope we also helped you. Try to keep your work-life balance!
WE KNOW how important it is.