Are you a person who says, “I will do whatever it takes to be successful at work”? If so, I would encourage you to continue reading.
A stereotypical day of a working professional would be along the lines of- a painstaking commute to work in the ‘always backlogged’ roads, a team meeting or two, constantly checking emails, working on project tasks for the day, taking a few breaks, making a few phone calls and the same grueling commute back home at an insane hour of the night. After this, all you are left with is – stress, anger, frustration, fatigue and the most important of all, a big paycheck.
What has been written above has become the norm and the worst part is, you have learnt to live with it!!!. In such cases, the term ‘work-life balance’ barely makes sense, because of being unfairly flexible at work and inflexible with others.
Family, Friends and Work are the three most important things that we claim to care about. From a mathematical outlook, these three form the sides of a triangle. To reach the pinnacle in whatever you are set out to achieve, balancing the three sides is very important.
If this is your 24 hours: Work & Commute = 14 hours, Sleep = 8 hours, Getting ready to work = 2 hours, your work is consuming your life!!!. The family and friends sides of the triangle are no longer in the picture and your career is a simple, predictable, no-fun straight line. !!!! . There is a famous saying, “What goes around, comes around”. If you don’t have time for your family and friends today, the same will come back to you sooner or later where they will have no time for you and that could be devastating.
I’ve observed and learnt how crucial this work-life balance could be and its impact on normalcy in one’s life, during my career in Mumbai. From the daily-waged workers to professionals, people in the United States have set a great example to the rest of the world on mastering the work-life balance and how flexible they can be. These are my simple observations, learning’s and recommendations.
- When your boss asks – How flexible are you? – Be honest and set the right expectations. If you or a family member has commitments that would prevent you to work beyond a certain hour or over the weekends, tell him so.
- Hard workers and smart workers are in mixed proportions in any project/company. Be the smart worker who can execute and deliver his tasks within a normal 8 working hours for which you are paid for.
- Long hours at work are required when you accept a task that does not belong to you or is not your area of expertise. Analyze your core strengths and weaknesses and accept work based on that.
- Effectively estimate your tasks. The benefit is twofold – your schedule for the week or month becomes predictable to you/your family/your friends and your project manager.
- Communicate – Be it a visit to the doctor, a friend’s wedding, a birthday, your kids parent-teacher meeting, an anniversary or just a casual night in the town – Plan it accordingly, inform your reporting manager that you will not be available during the planned date and time.
- A project deadline that will prevent you from attending to your family can very well be taken care of by another resource within the company. But, no one can take your place in the family.
- Unless you have signed-up for a 24hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year job, do not entertain work related calls beyond a certain hour of the day and switch off your mobile phones over the weekends and holidays.
- Minimize socializing with co-workers. After a tiring day at work, if you have a cup of coffee with a co-worker and discuss the mutually interesting topic – work!!! , the impact of stress just doubled.
- Listen to good music, talk to your friends and family (using your personal time) and give them a sense of belonging that you are there for them. What will reciprocate is simply beautiful and loving.
- Leave work at work. Do not discuss or bring work to your home or when you are on a flight/train to your vacation destination. Shelve your laptop, BlackBerry and get off the communication radar. Now you will have all the time on earth to spend with your family during the vacation or the evening.
- Break the norm – If you have set an example to your employer that you are available 24×7, it is never too late to break the barrier, set new expectations and regain control of your life. Go for it!!
Wishing you a well deserved, balanced work and life!!. Cheers.