As students who are looking forward to your first jobs, you must have already realized that your professional career will inevitably transform your personal life as well. As a professional, you will have responsibilities and priorities to pay attention to. If you are a part of your work team which has to get a critical task done, then you are bound to make sure that you work hard and get it done. This is good but as time passes you will notice that there is a delicate balance that you must maintain between your professional life and your personal life.
This ‘work-life balance’ does not have a standard definition. It varies for different people with different priorities. To put simply, work-life balance is the equilibrium that you must maintain between the time you spend at work and the time you allot to your personal life. I agree that this is too simplistic a definition but defining this balance is a tedious affair. Many professionals end up valuing their priorities both in professional and personal life and acting accordingly. The problem arises when you pay disproportionate amounts of attention to just work or to just your personal life.
As freshers who are just about beginning their professional life, it might seem easy to focus only on your work. Let’s face it. You have stars in your eyes and you want to reach ahead and grab every opportunity that comes your way. You might not have family priorities like older professionals have. It then makes sense to throw yourself into your work with abandon in your early twenties. As you cross over to your late twenties, your priorities will slowly start shifting and you will realize that you cannot dedicate the entire waking day to work. At this point, you will have to let go of your previous vigour when it comes to work.
I am not implying here that you stop being productive at work because that is never going to be a solution that you should consider. Instead you will have to slowly anticipate the coming changes to the best of your ability and manage the transition well so that both your personal and professional life don’t suffer.
Here are some points that I can think of when it comes to setting your work life balance:
1. Being clear about your priorities:
It takes some time for everyone to come to terms with the right kind of priorities. Reasoning with yourself in a no-nonsense manner can give you a glimpse. There are a lot of choices and it is understandable that you might want to get into a hundred different things at the same time but know that this is simply not possible. Instead rank your interests on a scale and concentrate on the top ones. Priorities are dynamic and are bound to change with time. Be prepared to recognize this change and plan accordingly.
2. Always give space to your personal life:
Personal life here is defined as the life you lead when you are not working. This might include your hobbies such as travel, social activities, social work, art and so on. Always nurture these hobbies even when you have an active professional life. You don’t have to dedicate a significant amount of time to them but spending some time every week is all you need.
3. Be passionate about your work:
You will be spending about 8-10 hours everyday at work. This is a huge chunk of your day and it should be spent only on activities that you are passionate about. Otherwise, the resentment and dissatisfaction will end up showing in other aspects of your life as well. Be productive at work and find out ways to minimize time spent in order to increase productivity. We keep publishing posts which will help you reduce the amount of time you spend on work activities without affecting your productivity. Check them out in your free time. Work smartly and learn to delegate tasks to other people who might be more capable of doing them than you. This will free up more time for you to focus on tasks that you are good at.
Finally, here is a TED video where the speaker Nigel Marsh gives you an idea about how you can go about with work-life balance on an ideal day. (P.S: This video targets older professionals but gives fascinating insights nonetheless).