The question “Is it possible to juggle work and personal life effectively?” was, and still is, probably one of the most popular questions this past year. Many people suddenly had to work in a space shared with other family members. The ability to function effectively depends on how well you integrate your work and personal life. It is not just how you aim to survive considering various responsibilities.
According to UC Berkley’s Haas School of Business, work-life integration is an approach that creates more synergies between all areas that define ‘life’ – work, home, family, community, well-being and health. This approach emphasises gentle pivots rather than set-in-stone boundaries between different areas in one’s life. It is about being the human that you are in all parts of your life.
However, work-life integration is not the ideal or perfect solution to get your life on track. You can end up integrating work into every area of your life without integrating life into your workday. This is where work-life balance fits in. This concept refers to the amount of time someone gives to both their personal and professional lives. To maintain workplace well-being, work-life balance is encouraged because it is believed that it can reduce stress and burnout. Often, work takes priority over all other aspects of your life and even pushes you to set aside your well-being to succeed on a professional level. Therefore, it is important to prioritise the demands of your work life and those of your personal life equally.
Technology is changing and improving rapidly, allowing us to function more effectively when working remotely. However, this makes us more reliant on our devices to complete work. The balancing act between our work and personal lives is becoming more and more difficult. Not only do we need to integrate our lives, the spaces previously known as ‘my-work space’ and ‘my-personal/family space’ are merging. We work from home. In fact, we find it difficult to unwind and shift from work to home because it remains the same place/space. Balance has a different meaning to different people because it is individually defined. Therefore, instead of separating the two completely (work and life), integration aims to unify your personal and work life in a way that complements both areas.
Obtaining a balance between your work and your personal life is not a tick-list exercise that will ensure that you are happier and more productive. It is important to be cognizant of and reflect daily on your priorities and where you spend your time. Here are a few methods to balance the amount of time you spend on work and your personal life, and to integrate more areas across your professional and personal space.
- Create a schedule. This will help you reserve time throughout your day to focus on priorities in the different areas of your life. At first, it may seem strange to formally schedule time for activities such as “dinner-with-the-family” or” working out”, but it will ensure that you spend time on these specific activities.
- Figure out your needs. Work-life integration is not the same for everyone. How you organise your time will depend on the commitments and responsibilities in your work and personal life. Therefore, you have to prioritise certain activities. Remember, though, having dinner with your family or working out is just as vital as that very important project you are working on.
- Coordination is key. Ensure that you arrange your time to fit with your family’s. The goal is to make your life easier and not harder, even if it is as simple as arranging a breakfast together once a week.
- Remain committed to some boundaries. While work-life integration is a helpful way to fulfil both your personal and work goals, your mind and body need regular rest from work. There is such a thing as overdoing it. We all want our lives to be filled with meaningful work and relationships. You need to allow yourself to do what is right for you.
Remember that there is no universal cookie-cutter solution to work-life balance and work-life integration. You should identify what will work best for you. It will help you to be a happier, healthier and more productive individual.