WorkShift

Man working remotely

How To Achieve A Work-Life Balance

Anxiety? Yes, I’m being very transparent and vulnerable about it. I’ve struggled with it and hence it’s a natural tendency for me to micromanage and over plan- literally every aspect of my life -in order to create a sense of false certainty.However, anxiety or no anxiety (although I’d say it just makes it worse if you have it), there is no such thing as perfection in any aspect of your life; you’ll never feel that everything is going just right- unless you change your mindset and allow imperfections to be a norm, and establish a personalized equilibrium that works best for you- something that you have to come up with. What would that look like? 

Meeting after meeting, jotting down 50 items on my to-do list of which I’m only able to complete less than half. Not managing sufficient quality time with my husband and my family or being called out for not being mentally present when around! Endless social events for which either I feel too drained to go to or upset that I can’t go at all, not to mention pending house chores! All of this mess can easily be managed, and I’m proud to say that I have come up with a few minor tweaks that have enabled me to take back control over my life-be it professional or personal.

Before I get into those few and rather underwhelmingly minor tweaks, I’d want to establish a point that may sound very obvious: your work-life or life-work balance is not a ratio that’s perfectly split up into 50:50. That’s a delusion I’ve indulged myself in since forever. What really happens is that we set rather unrealistic expectations for ourselves, which we either don’t meet at all or fail to comply with sustainably, and then end up feeling worse!

Alina Ahmed

Balance is whatever helps you feel balanced; it’s an ever-evolving process and a continuous endeavor. You have to be mindful of your energy levels and your emotional and physical state, and then do whatever it takes in that moment to recharge those energy levels and enhance your well-being-either stepping into work or calling out some time away from it. 

First of all, you should be the one setting healthy boundaries for yourself- and no, don’t let others dictate that for you; the second you allow someone else to define how things should be in your personal and professional realms, that’s the first mistake you’d make which I’ve finally corrected. How do we materialize this concept? Here are some ideas:

  1. Mark out some time on your work calendar and ensure to give yourself those moments no matter what. It could be a pro-longed break time or smaller breathers; whatever you like and prefer.
  2. You don’t need to attend every single meeting if you have 10 a day. Sometimes we end up attending more meetings and get less work done. Again, this is a personal choice- just prioritize your commitments. Ask your colleagues to record the meeting if needed. Catch up to it when you feel present-minded.
  3. Don’t over-commit and under-deliver. Say yes to what you can realistically achieve in a day or in a week. If it means pushing deadlines (doesn’t apply in every scenario of course) do so. Work with quality. 
  4. In the case where delegation or team work is possible- use that opportunity. Don’t be a one-man army; remember you want to win the war, not just the battle. 
  5. Always and always make a daily to-do list and a weekly one, but ensure to break it down by priority. This way you stay up to date with everything that needs to be done and you can maintain the flexibility to switch items around as per the dynamic circumstances. Make use of your Google Calendar for personal reminders as well.
  6. If something or someone frustrates you at work- don’t neglect or suppress that emotion, rather communicate it respectfully to the concerned individuals. Vent where it makes a difference.
  7. If you feel overwhelmed about a mistake that you made at work, force yourself to focus on the moments where you felt glorious and successful. Everyone makes mistakes. Embrace them and learn from them. Celebrate the small wins too. 

Now for some personal pointers: 

  1.  I cannot stress enough upon how reviving a long walk or a work-out is. Release those feel-good hormones! Let your body have some fun!
  2. Treat yourself to hobbies you are passionate about- integrate them into your daily/weekly life. Don’t wait months.
  3. If you are a foodie like me, ensure you treat yourself every now and then (Hello SnackMagic!)
  4. Create a routine that has elements of certainty and some room for spontaneity. Don’t plan everything in your life, it takes away the sense of adventure and mystery. 
  5. In the moments where nothing feels right (we all have those days) don’t shy away from the idea of putting everything on hold and allowing yourself time to recover- even if it means a break as short as 10 minutes. 
  6. Every now and then (again, you determine the frequency) do a cool make-over. Get a new outfit or visit the salon!
  7. Play around with the space you’re in by revamping it or make smaller adjustments. Our external environments play a huge role in how we feel internally.

On an ending note, I’d like to acknowledge that it’s so much easier to practice the above pointers in organizations that are output based and not running 9-5 on pre-pandemic models. Coming full-circle, yes I still struggle with my anxiety but it is a hundred times easier working remotely and working with my minor changes. I’m proud and happy to be part of an amazing workspace and empathetic and wonderful colleagues-thank you Stadium. 

I think I’ve given enough tips and tweaks and deliberately kept some of it vague to reinforce the concept that it is you who decides your norms, your boundaries, your preferences, and your equilibrium. Work is part of life, and some of us take great pride in our professional accomplishments. But always remember that life is much greater, and that we should learn to find meaning in it.