Several studies seem to indicate that women are better at multitasking than men. Women successfully swim across gender diversity in the work place, earn higher salaries and are responsible for majority of decisions both financial and societal. The flip side is the difficulty in achieving work life balance.
Find out how to deal with the basics of work life balance, the realistic and logical approach in exploring ways for women to achieve work life balance and includes tips to improve work life balance.
Impact of role change
Decades back woman's role was limited to being a caring mother while dealing with chores at home. Spare time was spent in socializing, engaging in activities like knitting, gardening, pet rearing etc. The women of that generation had the liberty to divide time between attending to family as well as spending quality time in matters that interested them.
The scenario has changed. Education has been a catalyst in empowering women and preparing them to participate in almost all fields. Many women hold important positions; be it in the political arena or the corporate sector. The economic downturn is forcing more companies to consider cutbacks or layoffs. The fear looming large in the minds of employees, putting in more hours of work has become a norm of the day. This places considerable strain on women who are striving to achieve a balance between their work and home life.
Signs of tilt in work life balance
The telltale signs of a tilt in work life balance is reflected in both realms, physical and emotional. They are typical signs of a skewed work life balance. Identifying the signs only suggests that it is time to take charge and find ways to balance work and home life.
Introspect to achieve work life balance
To achieve work life balance, there aren't any work life balance definitions propounded by intellectuals or scientists. Nobody has found the magical combinations or formula that work in achieving work life balance. An individual cannot be guided to spend 'x' number of hours at work and 'x' number of hours at home which facilitates improving work life balance. Reason being, the work life balance mechanism that works for an individual may not work for another. Priorities differ, so do the influential factors like age, lifestyle, abilities etc. In the absence of a magical definition or a mantra, the logical approach would be to take a personal inventory of life as it stands now and identify the causes.
Look inward especially at times when a sense of imbalance engulfs, self-introspection is a useful tool. Knowing yourself is vital for both understanding what factors most affect balance and happiness, and also for finding a satisfying purpose in life.
It requires inspection of thoughts and feelings and reflecting on past experiences. A simple process of rediscovering, it involves finding answers to questions that arise during the course of self-introspection. It throws light on our nature, purpose and essence. We can understand our strengths and areas that require improvement. The more self aware we are, the more we understand why we do the things we do.
A stress-free mind, a calm and harmonized setting, willingness to self-introspect, desire to make amendments wherever required facilitate a productive self-introspection process. The first question ought to be Am I living the lifestyle I desire? Here are vital questions that may form part of a self-introspection process. It's not a complete list, but some examples.
Introspection should lead to taking action. Answering questions help in knowing better about skill levels, strengths and weaknesses. It is important to list down areas worth investigating to determine what changes are required. Differentiate things you can control and those you cannot.
Work life balance tips
A common misnomer that is prevalent amongst majority of working women is it's impossible to reach professional milestones without affecting one's personal life. Rather it is a compromise/sacrifice in the work place or at home. The truth is it's a challenge, indeed achievable, but it is up to the woman to make it work. It does take time and effort to implement changes necessary. Perseverance and patience pays off. A pessimistic attitude doesn't. Even without formally making changes to present working conditions, there are a number of ways to improve work/life balance.
An interesting and much referred work life balance example is the 'seesaw' principle which is 'to maintain balance you will have to keep the right distance between two entities'. In this context, the two entities are work and life. Work is normally conceived of in this context as including paid employment while life includes activities outside work. Life outside work also includes free time.
For issues related to work, the first option is to discuss with the employer/deal at the corporate level.
Ask for help: Companies are keen to keep employees both happy and productive. Most companies recognize that it's important to get work done but employees need to balance work with personal life. Most of the time, issues may be resolved with effective communication. Unless the employer is aware, possibilities to explore solutions may not happen. So, check company policy and practices. Ask employer for support. Look for an appropriate opportunity to discuss with suitable personnel if flexible work hours, telecommuting and job sharing are options. If not for a long period, sometimes temporary changes can be helpful.
Revitalize: It could be that phase where the load is heavy, a temporary spurt in workload. Consider it as a chance to prove capability. There are ways to feel rejuvenated and take on the load. A little relaxation goes a long way. Taking vacation allows you to come back to work refreshed and more productive. Take a short walk; consider small breaks every two hours as it replenishes energy levels and increases concentration and productivity. Eat healthy snacks, listen to favorite music - look for different things that boost up spirits.
Maintain perspective: Make a list of work assigned, prioritize and organize. Categorize into everyday activity, weekly and monthly activity. Check if time is wasted on redundant activity or if any work is repetitive which can be simplified in such a way that deadlines and deliverables are always met on time. It also improves efficacy. Check if it is possible to delegate some work, so that you are not staying late at work.
Avoid disturbances: Avoid engaging in activities other than those concerned with accomplishing job. Do not spend time on activities that aren't related to enhancing career. Discourage people who seek company to vent their personal feelings, switch off electronic communication; do not access personal e-mail ID. All these reduce amount of work time and affects productivity. Discard anything that could potentially affect accomplishing work well within target time.
Consider a new job: People vary considerably in the amount of stress they are able to handle. Being honest with yourself about just how much stress you can take is important. It may not be possible to shift job immediately or start a new venture. Stabilize household balance sheet. Make a rainy-day fund and start looking for an alternative job. It is important to choose a work environment that fits with your values.
Get moving: Aerobic exercise or any other exercise form that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat, is an effective way to lift your mood, increase energy, sharpen focus, and relax both the mind and body. Working out helps release frustration and has many other benefits. Remember, you need the right amount of energy to last the whole day. Exercise helps in boosting energy levels.
At home: Here are ways to implement and manage balance at home.
Early to bed, early to rise: Go to bed a half hour early and get up a half hour early. This allows extra time. Use the time to plan and organize. You can work at moderate speed without hurrying up. Let go activities that are not productive. Having finished morning work at home, your mind is ready and eager to take on work challenges.
Buffer between work and home:After returning from, work take some time off. Engage in a conversation with kids, play with pets, browse through the television, listen to music etc. Relax a bit, then return to activities for the evening.
Work together: The onus of responsibility is not only yours but also that of your spouse. Sharing household activities with spouse, especially for couples with children, this strategy works well to improve work life balance. It's an ideal way to recognize and value each other's work and life goals. Encourage kids to do easy chores. Not only does it ease the burden, it also makes them responsible. You get some well deserved 'Me time'.
Outsource: Don't spend time and energy on tasks and events that don't require your involvement. Some household activities can be outsourced. Paying someone to do your laundry, cleaning and other household tasks can make you more productive. The money spent may be worth the time saved. The time saved can be used more effectively to help yourself and other people.
Get savvy: Technological advances have paved way to ease many activities. Instead of shopping in malls or grocery shops, consider buying online or direct-to-door delivery. It saves time and the hassle related with commuting long distance.
Pursue hobby: Set aside time every week for a favorite activity. Consciously attempt to create memorable times with your family. Engage in activities with family and friends that help you recharge.
Pay attention to health: Get enough sleep, eat right, keep stress levels low, regularly exercise- when you pay attention to health and wellness, you can notice improvement in ability to perform all other activities that are part of your life.
Love your life: Think of a life minus a career, the hours left at your disposal and how well you may want to spend. The first couple of days, weeks or months, it may be new found freedom. Besides the pay check, the recognition, a career provides an avenue to apply the knowledge and skill one has gained in the field of one's occupation. So, the work-life balance juggling act is worth perfecting!