An entrepreneur friend of mine says work-life balance is a myth. And to a large extent, I agree.
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Meaning of Work-Life Balance
According to Google, work-life balance is ‘a concept including proper prioritizing between ‘work’ (career and ambition) and ‘lifestyle’ (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development) as it relates to the idea of lifestyle choices.’
Simply put, work-life is the navigation of both aspects of living such that one is not sacrificed for the other. One does not thrive while the other is neglected. If one was to review the nature of work, especially here in Nigeria, there is a tendency to agree that it is impossible to find a balance between the two.
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Work-Life Balance In Lagos
The average salary earner puts in at least ten hours daily (working from 8 am – 6 pm). That’s not counting traffic, to and from work. For example, if you work on Lagos Island and live on the mainland, chances are you spend at least two hours in traffic to and from work on a daily basis. That’s an additional four hours – which brings us to fourteen hours.
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Out of twenty-four hours – that leaves us with ten hours.
Another functional ‘myth’ is ‘the average person needs at least eight hours uninterrupted sleep.’ Add that to fourteen hours, we have two hours left; two hours in which to bathe, eat, spend time with family/friends, socialize, Facebook, Instagram, tweet…
Work-life balance is indeed starting to sound more unrealistic by the minute isn’t it?
On the other hand, how long can someone function like an automaton? Something has to give – something has to make space for something else. More often than not, especially in today’s work climate, it’s the individual’s health that suffers.
Love What You Do
For a fulfilling life, balance is key. It’s probably the only thing that makes anything else make sense.
I have come to find that the easiest way to find work-life balance is to actually love what you do. I don’t mean ‘follow your passion’ and any of those mostly-impractical clichés – I mean love what you do.
One of my favorite sayings goes “since we can’t all have what we like, let’s like what we have.” In other words, we make the best of whatever circumstances we find ourselves in until we can make something better happen. Steve Jobs said: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
And that’s a truth.
Do Not Sacrifice Relationships
Relationships suffer in the hands of high-achieving individuals because they can hardly discipline themselves enough to make proper relationship decisions. Phones are switched off, texts go without replies, dates are made and forgotten about – all are sacrificed in the name of hard work and success. While it’s only human to bury oneself in work and other things that pass for it, it is equally important to recognize the need for human relationships and interaction.
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There is a reason a lot of highly successful people are ‘assholes’ – social ineptitude seems to be a hallmark of geniuses. The need to do away with distractions is real but so is the need to have a life outside of work. I once had a boss who argued that his staff didn’t have a reason to stay longer than 7 pm at the office. He said, “If you do what you’re supposed to when you’re supposed to do it, why should you work late?”
Those in the advertising business will understand the irony of that statement.
But we listened for the most part, and we found that we were slightly more productive during work hours and were, therefore, able to negotiate earlier closing on more days. It helped. The trick to finding what’s closest to work-life balance is prioritizing. Making lists, while clichéd, is still quite practical. To-do lists make for better time management and prioritizing. One can quickly work through important work stuff and still make time for other things.
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A couple of questions should help in finding work-life balance:
- Are you happy?
- Are you healthy?
- Is your family/social life healthy?
- Are you excited resuming work?
- Are you excited to go home after work?
When one answers no to more than two or more of these questions, something needs to be done objectively. Look closely at the areas where you seem to be lacking, develop realistic and practical solutions. Maybe work-life balance doesn’t exist, but we can at least make the best of whatever we have.
So – what’s your definition of work-life balance? How realistic do you think it is? Let us know in the comments!
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