By Y K Gupta
In this article we will discuss nitty gritty of work life balance and practical strategies to how to achieve it.
You almost always feel overwhelmed by the work. And hardy get any time for leading a fulfilling life. You always seem to miss that all important work life balance, you need and deserve.
Let me set the stage for diving deep in the subject matter by first discussing the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs basically stipulates, what are the human needs right from basic or physiological needs to the need for self actualization.
These needs have been depicted in a 5 layered pyramid form. And at the base of the pyramid are the physiological needs and on the top of the pyramid, naturally, lie your needs of self actualization.
We can further narrow these needs in to three categories for the purpose of discussing work life balance-
1. Work life balance and your basic needs
Your basic needs cover your needs for food, water, shelter, safety and health. When you have enough money to satisfy these very minimal needs for your existence then at the next level lies your psychological needs.
2. Work life balance and your psychological needs
These psychological needs for achieving work life balance cover your love and belonging needs as well as self esteem needs.
These needs cover your need for family, friends, society, love, affection and self respect.
3. Work life balance and your self fulfillment or self actualization needs
Next, on top of the pyramid lie your human needs of highest level. And in your human incarnation you must enjoy these traits as these are the traits only human are blessed to enjoy or attain.
These highest levels need include your needs or desire for knowledge, need of enjoying beauty, creativity and at the apex level your deep desire of unfolding meaning in life, your desire of manifestation of all of your human potentials.
Work life balance and how to achieve it
Now when you are aware of your all three types of needs, it is the apt time to discuss how to achieve work life balance.
You will appreciate that you need money for even fulfilling your basic needs. And for earning money you have to work .
So there can't be any denial that for fulfilling your needs you have to work, and you have to work hard. But how much hard? And in the answer of this question you will find the answer for achieving work life balance.
Yes, working hard is important and I even recommend to make hard work your passion.
But at the same time keep asking this question from yourself- Why I am earning all this money for?
And the answer is that you earn money for fulfilling your basic needs. And once your basic needs are satisfied then as a human being it is only natural that you would like to satisfy your higher level needs like having time to spend with family, friends, entertainment.
You will crave to have time to travel and see this beautiful world. You will want to arrange marriage parties.
Further, you would also like to attend social and family celebrations. You may even like to contribute some time for the service of the society.
In short, you will find yourself craving for the much needed work life balance.
You earn money for your happiness and for your family
But it is hardly of any use of earning money, after satisfying your basic needs, when you can’t enjoy it with your family and friends.
You want to earn money for your well being but instead you end up ruining your health by working day in and day out relentlessly.
You are more stressed in comparison of the employees 50 years back in time
After advent of faster and technologically advanced means of communication it has now become possible to stay connected for 24 hours and 365 days.
Unlike the employees 50 years back in time, who were relieved of stress after close of office or factory, after working hours, today’s employee appears to be on duty round the clock.
And thus continues to remain stressed all the time without getting the time to release that always building up stress.
In present circumstances, you are expected to respond to a call from your boss even on a week end and in some extreme cases even when you are on leave. And this is immensely stressful for you.
This ends up resulting in enormous stress to your mind and taking its toll on your health.
You will be surprised to know that, as revealed in this study that working extra hours can even be harmful for your heart.
The keys to achieve work life balance are time management and increasing your productivity
And the keys for time management and increasing your productivity lies in completing more tasks in less time and also in avoiding expending your time in wasteful activities. For achieving these feats-
1. Practice Pomodoro Technique
Pomodoro time management tool is a very simple yet very effective way of increasing your productivity.
In this technique you work in small chunks of 25 minutes, which is called one pomodoro and after completing one pomodoro you are rewarded with a break of 5 minutes.
When you complete 4 pomodoros of 25 minutes each, you are eligible for a longer break ranging from 15 minutes to 30 minutes, as per your need.
This technique is very easy to practice and yet very effective. For further details about pomodoro technique read my article- Improve your productivity with pomodoro technique.
2. Work distraction free
In order to get more free time to achieve work life balance you have to get more work done in less time. And for getting more work done in less time, you have to work free of all distractions.
Further, as you are aware, the biggest distraction is your mobile phone. So, better keep your mobile in flight mode when you are working on some important task.
Avoid uncalled for visitors. Also get out of the habit of checking your e mail every 5 minutes. Same is true about checking your social media accounts too frequently.
Further, engaging in the arguments on social media is a total disaster not only to your productivity and time management but also for your mental peace. And therefore, don't get involved in futile arguments on social media, well, until you are not getting paid for the same.
3. Put your routine work on auto pilot
For the most people time management starts from delegating the work, but please go a step ahead of competition.
Before delegating the work and hiring someone for that, please explore the possibilities of putting your less important work on autopilot.
With advent of state of the art technology in almost every field of life, putting your less important work on autopilot should not be a uphill task for you.
4. Delegate most of the remaining work
After putting a lot of work on autopilot, now is the time to delegate most of the remaining work.
And this will result in leaving only that work to execute for you, in which you are the best. You are required to do only that work where your expertise lies.
Practicing these two time management tools of automation and delegation in true spirit will free up an enormous amount of time for you. Which you can use in satisfying your higher level psychological and self fulfillment needs.
But before delegating please know how to delegate.
As delegation fails for two reasons, first is you don’t follow up and the other is you follow up too much.
Another reason for not getting the desired results from delegation is that you delegate the work but not the authority. To get the process of delegation get fruition you also have to delegate some authority, including some limited financial authority.
5. Have a mentor/teacher /coach
You consume more time and commit more mistakes when you try to do every work by yourself without any guidance from some mentor. Mentors are necessary for generating high quality work, in less time and with fewer mistakes.
I have emphasized these facts in much detail in my article how to become an expert in your field, which you can read here.
6. Use To Do List and Not To Do list
You make use of To Do List in which you prioritize your tasks. But equally important, for freeing up time for work life balance, is your not to do list.
In this list, you have to mention the futile activities you find yourself engaged in and which are killing much of your time without hardly any contribution to your productivity.
Vow not to do those activities or at least, to start with, drastically reduce time you are wasting on these activities by at least 50% to 90%.
These may include watching irrelevant videos on internet, giving excessive time to social media, watching TV and indulging in idle gossips.
For further details on how to prioritize your goals read my article- 5/25 rule of Warren Buffet.
7. Sharpen your skills
For sparing time to achieve work life balance and catering for you higher level psychological, intellectual and self actualization needs you have to continuously sharpen your skills.
For achieving this feat you have to keep on taking some courses, training etc related to the field of your expertise. Also, you have to keep yourself updated and have to sharpen your skills continuously.
Furthermore, you may also continue to read books relevant to your field of expertise.
Also you may subscribe for some relevant journals related to your field in order to stay updated about the latest developments and changes in your field.
If you don’t do this then in no matter of time your work will overtake you. And soon you will find yourself under stress and gasping for the time you crave so much for achieving work life balance.
8. Avoid burn outs
Lastly, you can enjoy your life and even your work, only when you stay healthy and fit. For achieving this feat never ever compromise on your health in exchange of work.
Take small breaks of 5 to 10 minutes regularly during the work whenever you feel tired. Also spare sometime for exercise.
Don’t force yourself to work otherwise you may end up ruining your health. Take your allotted leaves invariably and don’t let them get expire without availing.
If you are self employed or at apex level where you need not to ask for leaves from some higher up, then plan for your leaves yourself and give yourself a much required break.
Use this time to pursue the activities which satisfy your higher level needs for achieving work life balance.
In this article, I have tried to discuss the strategies for achieving work life balance threadbare for you. Now it is your turn to apply them in your life.
Go ahead and grab that much needed but always illusive work life balance, which is now very much in your reach.
Y K Gupta