Work-Life Balance: Is It Dying?

16/08/2016 10:37 | Updated 16 August 2016

When I talk to my students about what they want in their careers, I hear them say one thing fairly regularly, that is, they want a job where there is good "work-life balance". Is there even such a thing as work-life balance anymore?

Even though the term work-life balance is still used in daily conversation, gone are the days when you could leave an office at 6pm on Friday and not physically or mentally return to work until Monday at 8am. It can be said that the concept of work-life balance is dying. With the use of technology today, we can work anywhere at any time. Here are 5 tips that will help you manage the stress of blurring work and home boundaries, and strike that balance in today's day and age where separating work from home may seem like it is a bit of a fantasy.

1. Set boundaries
Mobile technology is a great tool that we can use to help us work smarter, and enjoy all its advantages. While everyone has a different perspective as to what creates a healthy work-life balance, prioritising what really matters and setting boundaries will help ensure we do not become a slave to technology. While it is perfectly reasonable to check your emails in the evening, especially if you know it will likely avoid morning inbox mayhem, it is equally important to know when to stop, kick back and relax for the night.

2. Unplug
Know your limits and when to switch off your phone or laptop to enjoy the life that is right before you. Being constantly accessible can be stressful and can dramatically reduce our ability to be present and focussed. If you're enjoying a family dinner or out with your friends, you certainly don't need to have your smartphone at hand. Turn it off and relish that "ting-ting" free time. By identifying what's most important in your life and when it is important, you will be a better you. And it is ok to be a little selfish here because the better you are for yourself, the better friend, spouse, parent and worker you will be as well.

3. Work out
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be stressful, and relieving the tension associated with stress is so important. One way is by sustaining a regular exercise routine. Everyone knows that exercise reduces stress, and lower stress makes the time spent working more efficient and playing more enjoyable.

4. Meditate!
Pay attention to your own needs and wellbeing. Stay in touch with how you are, physically and emotionally, and listen to your intuition. If you feel you're out of balance day in, day out, then you likely are! It's time to look at what's going on and re-evaluate. Short meditative exercises grounding your senses in your present surroundings can be a good break from it all. In meditation we learn to deal with one thought at a time. So the mind, does not only become more organised in recognising the issues that scream for our attention, but it also creates a better pattern of approaching priorities. If you don't know where to start, download an app, there are so many out there, some examples include, Headspace, Take a Break, Calm and Buddhify.

5. Avoid Perfectionism
It is no surprise that the pressure we're under to succeed has never been greater. Perfectionists can often find it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance in their efforts to perform well at everything. Hence, the quest for perfectionism, left unchecked, can lead to burnout and feelings of failure. It is important to recognise that perfectionism is actually unattainable. While it is good to use perfection as a guide, perfection is a process, not a destination.

Remember, work-life balance doesn't have to die for you. You do have some control. Achieving balance is an individual endeavour and everyone has to find their own equilibrium. Really, work-life balance is the Holy Grail, especially in such a connected world. Having said that, the technology at our fingertips provides a great resource for cultivating harmony between work and our personal lives. There are no set rules, so if the lines are blurred, it's up to you to prioritise and make adjustments.