Guest Column: Striking an ideal work-life balance

ByReema Bansal
Mar 18, 2023 11:34 PM IST

There were plethora of aspects of life that would automatically get taken care of in older (and simpler) times, but we have to consciously assimilate and accommodate everything now

Now, more than ever, once can hear several conversations about the need for work-life balance. And it is for good reason too; especially considering the massive changes our world keeps undergoing, thus upsetting the balance(s).

The two words “work” and ”life” can never be mutually exclusive. (Shutterstock)
The two words “work” and ”life” can never be mutually exclusive. (Shutterstock)

There were plethora of aspects of life that would automatically get taken care of in older (and simpler) times; we have to consciously assimilate and accommodate everything now. However, to me, the term, “Work-Life Balance” sounds somewhat contradictory by itself.

Work is a huge part of anyone’s life. But, in fact, life involves everything – work hours, family hours, play/relaxation hours, time dedicated to social life and one’s health and mind and, there is a lot of overlapping, so the two words “work” and ”life” aren’t mutually exclusive.

Dubbing the need to manage our lives and time well as “finding the right work-life balance” somewhere conveys that if “life” doesn’t (and as if it can’t) unfold at work and that one’s work cannot be one’s life. Both notions are incorrect.

In any case, it would, for the time being, serve to let the nomenclature be as is, and, look for ways and methods to achieve a healthy balance among the varied components of one’s life. This, the “achieving balance”, is a tricky thing. It’s a challenge for most of us, including the chiseled professionals, including different age-groups, and all other sorts of duty-holders. It’s a challenge for a mother to find time for self-care. It’s tough for a student to pursue any one thing wholeheartedly, with distractions and options galore.

I’m reminded of a comic meme I saw recently. It showed a multi-handed person, and read, “I suffer from ADCD – Attention Deficit Cleaning Disorder”. It’s where you start to clean one thing, but get distracted by other things that need to be cleaned — which causes you to bounce around at different jobs, only to end up doing a lot of work with nothing to show for it!

But, there’s a very simple and grounded thought that anything that we dedicate our time and attention to will flourish. The saying grass is not greener on the other side has itself transformed and evolved as grass, now, is greener where you water it. So, that’s what needs our focus. Time, a nurture presence and patience are priceless gifts. Whomsoever and whatsoever we bestow these gifts on, will come to fruition.

Coming to the balance facet more concretely, there a few ideas can come to our aid. Prioritise! If we don’t do “the first things first”, they take up more of our time and energy later when we barely have any left (after completing less essential tasks). That leaves no room for relaxation and/or unwinding. This can become a pattern, if we don’t learn to prioritise!

Stick to the timings, but avoid rigid compartmentalisation. Carrying work home is sometimes okay, and, so is enjoying at workplace. However, stay tuned to the quantity and quality of this. Doing too much office-work after the designated hours, or doing it too intensely can be harmfTheul. Similarly, always maintain at least some professionalism when at workplace. In crux, despite the unavoidable spill-effect of both places on to each other, accept that the two situations are different.

Avoid short-cuts.Masquerading short-cuts for “smart work”, can lead one to be tempted to dispense with doing actual work.

A gentle reminder can help here that sooner or later, the only thing that will bring lasting success is honest and sincere hard work. Even a miracle, they say, is actually a change in lifestyle (either mental, physical or both). So, ensuring putting in the required labour and resources — be it home or office, a walk in the park, or, kids’ homework, many features get catered to.

(The writer is an assistant professor.)

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