Over recent the long Labour weekend, I pondered the question; is life work and is work life?
Rallying for a work/life balance is the inspiration behind Labour Day, which commemorates the struggle for an 8-hour working day. New Zealand workers were among the first in the world to claim this right when in 1840, the carpenter Samuel Parnell won an 8-hour day in Wellington. Labour Day was first celebrated in New Zealand on the 28th of October in 1890. On this day, several thousand trade union members joined a parade and many businesses closed for half a day. Later into the century a statutory public holiday was declared and by 1920 it became a holiday rather than a public spectacle. In 2016 we tend to see Labour Day as a chance to relax, and a time to spend away from work with family and friends.
I’m curious to know what others think of the work/life balance topic. Now that we have the freedom to choose how our work fits into our life. How can we reach the ultimate work/life balance that is so highly sought after?
Defining Work/Life Balance
Times have changed and it’s no longer as simple as clocking in and clocking out from work. We’re in an age of working from home, flexi hours, contracting and other work options; the lines have become blurred. Access to technology and the seamless ability to action activity whether you are in an office, café or by the beach, means that work has no bounds. Rather than seeing it as a burden, Mariam Naficy (Fortune 500 Most Powerful Woman Entrepreneurs) said that the harder she worked, the luckier she gets. While that may be down to her passion and dedication, she also sees work simply as part of her life, and she enjoys it!
I can certainly agree that finding this balance is not easy, and near impossible, yet there is such thing as an imbalance. Things can start to go wrong when you’re loading work onto yourself constantly. A handy tip is to plan in advance and spread throughout your week, month or year. Rather than waiting until something goes wrong or you are at burnout. At the end of the day, it’s a choice we make.
Focus on Your Priorities
Even the most dedicated employee can have their priorities change in an instant simply because “life happens.” If you have a family, you might want to spend more time away from work to see your loved ones. On the other hand, if you’re new to the industry and you’re starting a new career, you’re more likely to dedicate your full attention to your new role. Either way, once you balance your priorities, you’ll begin to feel happy in all areas of your life, both professional and personal.
There’s a great TED Talk that focuses on this idea from Nigel Marsh, who describes how to make work/life balance work, saying that it is too important to be left to your employer. Instead, Nigel stressed the importance of the power each person has to take control of the type of life that they want to lead, including their work/life balance. The key point from Nigel’s talk is that it’s all about a strategic balance between family and personal time, and productivity at work.
A key way to achieve this work/life balance is to first work out what is important to you. It will always be a juggling act, but it is about establishing your priorities.
To me work is life and life is work, and to find satisfaction we need to embrace a balance between the two. Taking small steps and attending to each area of your life is the strongest platform for a successful work/life balance. Through this you’ll have the space to relax so that you don’t feel like you’re a step behind all the time. Of course, you can’t achieve a perfect balance in one day, but even the slightest improvements and a good plan can radically transform your own work/life balance for the long run.
For more tips on how to embrace work as life, and life as work, or if you want more advice on a work life balance feel free to get in touch.