Work Life Balance Definition
The definition of work life balance is having mental and physical equality between the effort you spend on work and the effort you spend on the rest of your life. It's about having a balance between the time you're doing work and tasks related to work, and the time spent on the rest of your life, such as friends, family and hobbies. Why is it so important?
The Importance Of Work Life Balance
So, we've identified the definition of work life balance. Now we need to find out why it's so important. Why should you have a balance between your work and life? There are many reasons for this.
One reason for this is that you need to give yourself a mental break from work. The effort and concentration required for your work, whether you realise it or not, is quite a lot. The type of job you have can vary this, but most IT jobs involve a significant amount of mental concentration. A lot of people in the trade industries and other physical jobs often feel sore after a long day. It's similar for working in IT - working a long day can leave you mentally tired. Your body needs time to recover from this. You need to rest and take a break from work in order to recover - this is done in the "life" part of the work life balance equation. Spend time doing what you like, other than work.
Another reason for having a work life balance is that it is good for your health. Working all of the time isn't good for your health - it can cause stress, and because you're working you won't be exercising much which also isn't good for you. These might not be short-term issues but over time they can build up.
There are other things outside of work that are important in our lives. While the aim of this site is to provide information on how you can improve your IT career, I realise it's not the only thing in your life. One of the ways to improve your IT career is to have a balance between the work you do and the life you live. It has an indirect way of helping your career.
The Benefits Of A Work Life Balance
What's so good about having a work life balance? There are a few positives to having a break between work time.
I believe it makes you more productive and effective over the long term. Taking time away from work will let your mind and body recover, as mentioned above. This will make you more focused when you need to be - during work hours.
It can also improve your overall life by enhancing your relationships with others. Getting closer to family and friends, trying new things and getting into hobbies can make you feel good and improve your mental state. These areas usually make you feel better about yourself, and therefore improving the way you go about your work and improving your career.
How To Achieve Work Life Balance
Well, we've outlined the definition, the importance and benefits of this concept. Now, how do we put it into action? I've listed a few points below that I've tried to use and some that I've been told:
- Leave Work At Work - It can be tempting to bring work home after you leave the office. Getting just those extra few things done seems hard at work, but getting them done at home means you have a fresh start the next day. This may seem like a good idea - and it's something that can be good, but only in moderation. If you're taking your work home constantly, you won't be able to draw the line between work life and personal life. It will take a toll on you, mentally, over the long term.
- Find A Hobby - There's more to life and work, and that's why there are so many hobbies and activities people are interested in. One of the things I like to do is play basketball. It's fun, social and good for fitness. Other people I know like to cycle, play video games, make homemade beer, learn video editing, read travel books, take up martial arts, and many other activities. It could even be something simpler like cooking dinner or watching a few TV shows. It gives you a break from work and provides benefits that you don't otherwise get. Find out what your interests are and try something new outside of work.
- Socialise - Spending time with others is a great way to achieve work life balance. Whether this is socialising with work colleagues, friends or family, the act of going out and spending time with people has great benefits and helps to balance your life. You can learn new things and have fun.
- Set Your Peak Periods - Sometimes you can't help it - work needs to be done by a certain date or something needs to be done as soon as possible. This is quite common in the IT world. However, over the long term, it should balance out. Maybe you need to work really hard for a couple of months. After that, you might slow down a little bit. The aim of this point is to balance the high-volume or peak periods of work with the non-peak periods. If you work in a company or industry that has peak periods (for example, finance companies may get busy at the end of the financial year), then you can revolve around those if needed.
- Take A Holiday - One of the best ways to have a work life balance is just to take a holiday. It doesn't have to be extravagant - you can take a few days off to go for a drive, have a weekend away somewhere, or you could take a few weeks off to go international. The aim is to get away from work and give yourself a physical and mental break. It's a great way of giving yourself more balance in your life.
- Make A Change In Your Life - Sometimes things just need to change for you to get a greater balance. If you drive to work, you might find that taking public transport is an option that might help. You might want to go running in the morning before work. Deciding to go out and eat at a restaurant once per week is another way. It adds a bit of variety to life and can make you feel refreshed.
- Stop Trying To Do It All - Many of us overcommit to the amount of things that we do in life. This is especially true as we get older and have a family and kids. Trying to do everything can mean that we do none of those things well. You should learn how to recognise your limits and not try to take on too many things at once. This applies both to work tasks and things at home.