Additional insights provided by Christine Jama, Program Coordinator at Impact Hub Vienna.
It is the holy grail: work-life balance. Decades ago, futurists predicted how technology would liberate us from the drudgery of work. In 1930, John Maynard Keynes believed we would be working 15-hour weeks.
Fast forward to the present, technology has advanced in ways few of us could’ve imagined. A computer has shrunk from the size of an entire room to the size of a human hand. And yet, most of us are working more than ever before. Technology has given work the ability to creep into our home life. But is it just an issue caused by the rise of technology? Or are we causing ourselves this mental strife? Some estimates say that over half of workers are burning out. The 15-hour week still seems a long way off so until it happens, let’s look at ways we can find a work-life balance and keep our sanity in check.
This is not the easiest thing to do and may not even be possible for most workers. But sometimes, you need to be the one to push back against your boss and tell them no to a project you know is going to eat more of your time. Sometimes, this ‘no’ is you saying it to yourself. Hard work does pay off in the long-run but at what cost? Ambition won’t get you anywhere if you burn out too fast. Life isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. So pace yourself. And know that there are no shortcuts.
Assess where you are right now
Be realistic with what you can achieve. We all want to change the world for the better but if you don’t achieve it this second, the world’s not going to end. We all have deadlines to meet, meetings to attend, and KPIs to achieve. But if the stress is getting to you, try to step back and take an objective view. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you miss a deadline? And what is that worth to you?
Are you just your job?
With the continual fading of barriers between work and life, it’s easy for many people to make work their entire life and derive almost all of their value from it. But think about that for a second, are you just your job? Take some time to think about where that line between your work and your life should be. Look at the other parts of your life where you find value like your friends or sports. Reorganizing where you get value will also reorganize the importance you put on work.
You will probably need to restructure some aspects of your life. Whether it’s making more time for your friends and family or just making time for yourself. A complete overhaul is probably not going to be possible unless it’s absolutely necessary. So start small and make gradual changes. If you eat lunch at your desk to get more work done, that’s exactly the place to start.
Exercise and meditate
Exercise has been proven to be an effective relief for stress. Like the point above, start small. Go for a walk. Take 5 minutes and then make it 10. Pretty soon you’ll be in the swing of things and jogging for 30 minutes will be the norm. Meditation has also been shown to relieve stress. Taking as little as 10 minutes to center yourself and be mindful of how you’re feeling can do wonders. It might also reveal the next steps you need to take for the proper work-life balance.
The way forward
There are greater things in this world than work. While it gives many of us purpose, it can also grind us down. The points above are just guidelines. Since everyone’s different, you need to find what works for you. But the first step is always recognizing your needs. So start there.