Work-life balance refers to the time spent working versus the time spent on the rest of life. For most hard-working employees, work is one of the most challenging areas to keep in a healthy balance. There are many different reasons that you may have difficulty maintaining a good work-life balance, but specific reasons may be different for everyone. The following five reasons are almost always shared by employees and employers alike, as each sabotages their own balance to work toward undefined goals.
The need to compete
Competition is a constant in many facets of life, especially within the realm of business. Employees must compete with each other to “climb the ladder” to their idea of success. Employers must find a way to maintain a competitive edge so that their business doesn’t fall behind in the marketplace. In most cases, each believes that allowing the balance to slide toward work will help improve their odds of competing successfully.
Following dollar signs
It’s way too easy to compromise the life you want in order to bring in more dollars. Whether it’s overtime, spearheading a new project or pursuing a time-intensive client, it’s easy to put the work-life balance out of perspective. You may tell yourself that it’s just temporary, it’s worth the cost, or that it won’t have that big of an impact on your life. Whatever the story, it suddenly becomes easier to take on more work and block out some other facet of life in favor of higher pay or better revenue streams.
Trying to get enough hours
This is where communication between employers and employees is absolutely critical. Many employees put in extra hours at work because their bosses ask them to. Sure, the overtime pay is nice, but an employee may accept the extra hours simply because they’re afraid to say no. They don’t want to be penalized for turning down hours, and don’t want their supervisors thinking that they won’t accept extra hours in the future.
At the same time that employees feel compelled to accept overtime, an employer may push employees and put extra time in themselves because he or she believes that it is expected. When you get a good worker, you want to make sure they have everything they want. Many people appreciate extra hours and the proportionately larger paycheck. Good employees also know that they’re an asset to the company, and may seek out bigger opportunities if they feel they don’t have enough room to grow in their current position. By making expectations about work hours and overtime clear, both employees and employers can enjoy a better work-life balance and better job satisfaction.
No timeline with set milestones
Life can become an endless march from one project to another, with no clear boundaries between. Without fail, there’s always more work to do. If you don’t have specific timelines with measurable milestones, you may simply dive right into the next piece of work as soon as you finish the last. Eventually, this will lead to burnout and a life that’s neglected to allow room for work. Set that timeline, complete with every milestone in every project for the foreseeable future. It’s okay to press ahead with it if you can fit it into your normal work schedule, but only push beyond your work schedule if you haven’t reached a reasonable milestone. When you’re ahead on the timeline, you can give yourself permission to take a break without the nagging feeling that you should be doing something more productive.
Lack of clear goals
If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, then you’ll forever feel like it’s not being achieved. Goals must be clearly defined in order to be reached. Once you know exactly what you want to accomplish, break down each goal into specific steps. Further break down each of these steps into milestones for your daily and weekly timelines. Stick to these. Working harder may propel you toward your goal faster in the short-term, but it’s not a sustainable pace. By holding yourself to a good work-life balance, you ensure a steady workload that you can continue doing indefinitely, and feel great in the process.
When you achieve a good work-life balance, work ceases to feel like an overwhelming burden. Get back to enjoying what you do for a living, and enjoying the rest of your life as well. If you’re an employer, take time to discuss personal goals with your employees as well as business ones. People who feel fulfilled on a personal level will also be satisfied and productive on a business level.
If you’re an employee, make sure to get clear expectations from your employer. Determine what he or she wants from you in your current position, and strive to excel within those bounds. It doesn’t help anyone if you’re burnt out, and that overtime might not even be important to your employer. Hours may be offered as a favor to you, without the realization that you don’t really want them or can’t fit them into your life schedule.