Work-life balance is a term that is used all the time nowadays, but what does it really mean? It probably has a different meaning for different people, and the meaning is likely to change for each person in different stages of their lives. What seems balanced when you are at your first job in your 20s may not when you are in your 40s. Other things like studies, a growing family or nearing retirement may also shift your priorities.
What maybe we can all agree on as a key element of the work life balance concept is that work-life balance doesn’t mean scheduling an equal amount of time for both, but getting the most out of your time both at work and outside of work. This means feeling a sense of achievement and enjoyment in both aspects. This sense of being able to achieve something each day and enjoy each day, both at work, and outside of work affects our happiness, well-being, and (this is where companies should really sit up and take notice!) productivity.
What the statistics say
Check out the statistics here, from The Economist, on the need to “Get a life” in order to raise productivity. A slow economy and worry about employability makes for a large incentive to stay at the office longer hours, but it isn’t really clear that it actually helps us work better. Maybe “getting a life” does.
There is no magic formula on how to manage your own work-life balance, nor is there any shortage of “How to” articles online, but we especially like this TED talk from Nigel Marsh. He points out that trusting your company to do this for you might not be the way forward, so you have to take steps to help yourself balance your work and your life. Doing so would probably give us all an enormous sense of achievement and enjoyment.
- Get a life: originally intended as a sarcastic way of telling someone to focus on something more important than what they are currently doing, it can also be used to tell workaholics that there is more to life than the office.
- Shift: move
- Achievement: something accomplished by ability or effort
- Enjoyment: a feeling of satisfaction and or pleasure