Work Life Balance Should Never Be a Myth in Your Life.
Hello, everyone, welcome back to my column where I would be writing and tackling some of the burning questions, trends and advice that are currently hot topics around the working world. And hopefully, through this column, I am able to provide you witj insider tips and cheat sheets that is going to help you navigate the corporate jungle.
This episode, I am going to be talking about work life balance. Okay I won’t lie, this is one of the hardest things to do, especially when you are at the age where ambitions are powerful and the drive to work harder to make something of yourself is burning stronger than ever.
I have been in positions where I have worked through the nights, weekends, public holidays and even personal holidays, without complaining – merely because I was eager to climb the ladder. But was it worth it? I missed a good amount of family time, lost touch with some real good friends and had not idea what’s happening in the world outside work. Then, I had this epiphany moment one day and decided to start practising a balanced work and life.
Let me tell you, it was the best decision I have taken (other than the time when I decided to buy my own house, but that’s another story for a different day). While it is hard to maintain a proper balance, I still was able to score good times with my family, go on vacations, meet with friends for drinks and gossip sessions and have my personal reading time all the while working hard to hit my KPIs at work. So today, I thought I’ll share how I manage the balance in my work and life.
Learning to Say ‘No’
Hard. I know. Especially if you are like me a ‘people pleaser’ – saying ‘no’ is going to be difficult. While going the extra mile and always being available for work is excellent, not being able to say ‘no’ could be threatening to your mental health. At the same time, some may argue that saying ‘no’ you do not want to appear as being unreasonable. So here is what I did, every time a task was delegated to me, I analysed a few things – if this was part of my KPI, if my schedule permits one more additional task and most importantly if I am able to meet the request and submit the work as per my normal calibre if not better.
If all the criteria above are a yes, then I accept the work. But if even one of the criteria is not possible, then I say ‘no’ to the request and stop guilt tripping myself. What is critical here is that you understand that there is no point in saying ‘yes’ and then struggle to deliver or deliver a slapdash work. Any work – last minute or carefully planned – reflects your work ethics.
Say ‘no’ politely and explain why it would be impossible for you to work on the request. Sometimes, in my experience, they then counter offer you more time to work on their request – then it becomes an ideal win-win situation.
Prioritise, Prioritise, Prioritise.
Another habit I developed was writing a list of priorities for the day and making sure I finish them on time. The to-do list must be written down according to urgency and the need of the day. But there are a lot of things to do in a day, where do I start – you say? No worries, I got you. I use a simple 1,3,5 method – 1 big task, 3 medium tasks and 5 small tasks to complete before the end of the day. Choosing what goes into this 1,3,5 list is what will train you on recognising your priorities.
Be patient, identifying your top tasks of the day becomes easier with practice. If there are any leftovers from yesterday’s list – that should go to the top of the list and must be completed immediately. This way, you do not keep rolling your tasks and never end up doing them. If it helps most successful people in the world hate the word “procrastination’ – so listen to them and wrap that to-do list up as efficiently as you can.
Talk and Connect
Hey, how would people know what you are feeling if you do not share. One of the things I noticed is that when I started talking about doing Pilates two times a week with my colleagues – it would be them reminding me every Tuesday and Thursday, nearing the close of office hours that it is time I pack up leave for my Pilates class. Even when I get business calls, they do their best to avoid calling me when I am in the Pilates class. So, speak up, let everyone know what you love or how you are spending your time. This way you get to connect with your colleagues and understand their needs, hobbies and how they balance their lives as well.
Now, what if you want to keep your private life private? No issues here as well, just be very up front with your bosses, colleagues and teams – about your work timing and wanting to not bring work back home. Be sure to assure them that your 8 to 9 hours at work will be spent productively and your timelines are all in order. But, do keep in mind that there are times when will you need to put a bit of extra hours at work, because you need to go the extra mile to climb that corporate ladder. Just be sure, that it doesn’t happen all the time and you are able to have your ‘me’ times more often than not.
The bottom line is – open up don’t keep it bottled inside and assume people will understand your needs. Say it nicely, conversationally and in a manner where your office colleagues, friends, supervisors and team feel connected to you.
In conclusion, the balancing act is a very fine thin line – sometimes you would fail and sometimes there is just too long ‘me’ times. It is not easy, and personally I noticed there is a lot of negotiations, compromising, constant adjustments and sacrifices. Nevertheless, the more honest I am with myself; it gets slightly easier every time – so whether it is saying ‘No’ or writing a list of priorities or talking to someone – I just rely on the truth. If I fall, I just climb back up again and seek for that balance. Don’t give up – just keep going.
If you have other methods, you use to strike that balance at work and in your personal life – don’t forget to share it with me. Write to me at [email protected]
Pra Muniandi is the Regional Marcom Manager for SalesWorks Group Asia. She enjoys people watching and surfing the television from her couch when she is working or writing or managing a crisis. She still lives with her quirky traditional mom and enjoys every minute of it. Some of her advice in these columns comes from life itself or listening to her wise mom and cranky best friends.