As the nature of work evolves, so does the way people balance their professional and personal lives. Work-life integration is one of the biggest challenges in the modern workplace. Work overloads and increased responsibility at home can make it more difficult to strike a balance between our personal and professional spheres of life. Unfortunately, the cost we pay is prolonged working hours, less time for hobbies or family members, and stress or burnout. So, can we mitigate these problems and turn our focus on overall wellbeing with the help of daily habits? Let’s explore the problems of not having a good work-life balance and the daily habits to integrate work and life better for a happy and meaningful life.
What is a Good Work-Life Integration?
Work-life integration is one of the most pressing issues of modern life. It is the key to maintaining high productivity and creativity, among other things. We all need to find a balance between our professional and personal lives. If we don’t, it affects us both mentally and physically, leading to burnout or, worse – depression.
Work-life balance vs. Work-life integration
- Work-life balance is a concept of spending equal allotments of time for work, family, education, and leisure by setting concrete boundaries.
- On the other hand, work-life integration looks at how people can organize and re-adjust their schedules to effectively manage time on both work and the things outside it.
- Work-life balance encourages strictly dividing work and personal life, which is harder to achieve. In contrast, work-life integration promotes a holistic approach to life and work and is more realistic than work-life balance.
What are the Benefits of Having a Healthy Work-life Integration?
A healthy work-life integration is key for an employee's well-being. It can be achieved by dividing the day into three parts: work, life, and rest.
Achieving a healthy work-life balance is not just about giving your mental and physical health the attention that it needs. There are many benefits to having a healthy work-life balance. Employees who have excellent work-life integration report higher levels of productivity, reduced stress, better sleep patterns, and more job satisfaction.
This is because when you are well-rested, your creativity levels increase, and you are more productive at work. It also helps to reduce stress levels which can often be the cause of ill health or depression.
While it can be tempting to stay at your desk all day long, working late into the evening or on weekends, this is not good for you or your company. Staying focused on your goals without interruption for hours at a time can be difficult to do, so always take care of your physical and mental health first.
How to find the perfect work-to-life balance for you?
Balance is different for everyone, but there are some basic considerations that everyone should take into account when they are looking for it:
- Space - physical and mental)
- Time - how much time do you spend on each activity
- Emotion - how do you feel about each activity
- Practice - doing something often makes it easier
The workplace is changing, and so should we. The changes in the workplace require us to not only work hard but also take care of ourselves. We must learn to manage our time, be more flexible, take breaks, and get enough sleep. It is important that we do all of this in order to maintain a good work-life balance, which will allow us to perform better at our jobs and live healthier lives.
Achieving a work-life balance is not an easy task, but it can be done through deliberate actions, for example, setting goals for ourselves.
Tips For An Integrated Work-life Balance
1. Take Care Of The Body And Mind
Some recent studies show that people are spending about 45% of their waking hours at work which is not good for their mental health or happiness levels. It’s therefore imperative to find a way for self-care and relaxation when not working in order to give yourself a break from the daily grind.
The human mind is the most important part of our body because it controls everything. We should take care of it and find time to enjoy life if we want to do better in our work. One way to do this is by having a good sleep pattern, eating healthy food, and taking time for ourselves.
If you're working long hours and over-schedule, the chances are that your body is not getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep can affect both your physical and mental health. Let's explore some of the health issues linked to sleep deprivation, which could eventually lead to burnout.
People who are able to take care of themselves will have a better work-life balance, and they will be more productive at work too. "If you live to work, you die from stress." Find time for fitness and relaxation so that your body can recover from the physical demands of work.
2. Write Your Work And Life Goals
Writing down what is important for us is key to achieving a good work and life balance. If finding meaningful work that brings joy is a work goal, then trying to find passion is the first step. Likewise, writing down personal life goals too can help gain clarity and focus on working towards them.
An example of a personal work-life goal can be:
I want to start working on my own business because I am passionate about startups and entrepreneurship. I know that it will be hard, but if it is successful, I will have more time for myself, and I can take care of my family or friends or kids when they need me."
3. Build A Time Schedule Or Timebox
If you are looking for better work-life integration, it is recommended that you build a time schedule and use the time wisely.
Timeboxing is an effective technique, especially for busy people, to get things done in an organized manner. When timeboxing or building your schedule, try to focus on what tasks can be done in one hour or less. This will help you manage your time effectively and prevent over-committing yourself.
A couple of tips when building your schedule using the timeboxing method are:
- Put down all the activities that you need to do each day so that they don’t get lost in the shuffle later on.
- Use an app like Calendly to help with scheduling appointments.
- Thirdly, plan ahead and think about what kind of schedule would suit your personality best by taking into account the number of hours per week that you want to spend on work and personal activities so it doesn’t become too overwhelming or tedious for either one.
- Schedule your work hours in advance and stick to them as much as possible.
- Try to avoid adding more time to your work hours because this will make you feel like you never have any time for yourself, which takes us to the next point.
4. Leave Work When You Are No More At Work
Even though work-life integration is about clearing the boundaries between work and life and integrating the two parts to blend well for a well-balanced life, putting an end to work is sometimes essential.
Some small ways to do this are:
- Not taking work calls at the dinner table
- Allocating bedtime only for family matters
- Taking evening or weekend breaks
Leaving work on time
Leaving work on time is one of the best ways to achieve a good work-life balance. It can help you reduce stress and anxiety while also giving you more time to do other things that are important to you.
Stop checking emails on weekends.
Another important habit for better work-life integration is not checking emails on weekends and spending well-rested and fun time doing the things you love outside of work. So if you want to have a better quality of life and enjoy it more, then leave work on time and spend some quality time with your family and friends!
5. Learn To Prioritize
There are many ways to prioritize your daily tasks. One of the most effective methods is the Eisenhower Matrix which is a two-by-two grid that breaks down an item's priority level into one of four categories:
Urgent, Important, Nice to do, and Not important.
- Urgent items are urgent because they will have a big impact on the outcome of something or someone if done incorrectly. These items can be accomplished in less than 2 hours.
- Important items are important because they need to be completed within the next day or two and require significant effort from you. These items can take up to 3 hours to complete but should not be put off until later as it may cause more problems in future days or weeks.
- Nice-to-do items are those things that will take some time but don't have any major consequences if not completed immediately. These tasks could be done at any point during the day and should not exceed an hour each for completion so as not to interrupt other activities you need to get done during the day.
- Not important items do not fall under these guidelines and should only take up 15 minutes or less for completion or deletion so as not to break concentration on other tasks you need to accomplish today or this week.
6. Make Time For Your Hobbies
There are many ways to make time for your hobbies. The first step is to identify what your top priorities are in life and what you enjoy doing the most.
Once you have identified these things, create a plan of how you will be able to do them on a regular basis. You can start by doing some planning on your calendar with specific times when you will dedicate yourself to these activities.
Another way is to make sure that your schedule includes time for these activities. If it doesn't, then it's important that you identify where there might be space in the day or week so that you can fit this into your schedule.
Spending time on hobbies can be easier for freelancers, compared to full-time working employees working from 9 to 5. So, what one needs to do is set a process or a system that can create a sense of balance in life.
For example, schedule your weekends: Even if they're only 30 minutes, this will give you time to relax and enjoy yourself without interruptions from responsibilities.
7. Leverage Working From Home or Remote Work
There are many benefits of working remotely. Leveraging to work remotely can save a lot of time and help spend time on personal matters such as workouts, sending/receiving kids from school, preparing healthy homemade meals, etc.
- Working from anywhere means there is no need to commute to an office every day.
- Work on your own schedule, which allows for more time with family and friends.
- Focus on the task at hand without being distracted by other things happening around you or in your physical location.
8. Make Use Of Technology Wisely
With the advancement in tech and software apps, there is almost no work that you can do on your mobile phone or using software. From blocking your calendar for some focused time to online food delivery, assistants to messengers, you can pretty much carry work along with you and integrate work and life better.
Making the right use of technology can help ease daily life. For example, using grocery shopping apps can help to reduce time spent at the shopping mall looking for groceries. Instead, order them online using apps.
Another example is for parents to sync google classroom with their kids, so they can monitor and access their child’s progress in class, get notified about exams, and teacher’s review comments.
9. Create A Social Life With Family Or Friends
Spend quality time with friends and family to maintain emotional connections outside of the workplace environment. Also, try to share some social life with your colleagues to help them understand why you need time away from work at times.
10. Stop Procrastinating At Work Or Home
Procrastinating work or personal matters can only add stress and more backlog in your work. Attending to personal matters or work matters when it’s the right time without procrastinating is key to managing both worlds without going sane.
For example, if there's a problem at home that needs dealing with, take care of it before or after office hours so that it doesn't interfere with your job the following day, causing unwanted stress.
Concluding Thoughts: Achieving The Best Work-Life Integration
The best work-life integration starts with re-evaluating and redefining your daily life habits and prioritizing the important things that matter to you. It is essential to set realistic goals for your personal productivity, but it is also vital to define what success means for you. Your work-life integration should be a balance between the two extremes of overworking and underworking, and it's up to you to find the right balance between these two opposing forces.
What are some of the common work-life integration habits? Which ones do you think are effective and efficient? Let us know your thoughts!
If you're struggling to maintain good work-life integration, here are some tips to help you out!
- Be honest with yourself about what matters most in your life. Look at how much time is spent on these activities and identify which ones could be improved upon.
- Prioritize your activities based on what matters most to you so that you can spend more time on those activities that truly make a difference in your life.
- Take small steps toward change every day
FAQs on Work & Life Balance
Should I Spend More Time at the Office or at Home?
It depends on what type of work you do and how much you like your job.
If you are in the home, it will be easier for you to get more work done because there is less distraction. However, if your job requires creativity or interacting with people, then it would be better for you to spend time at the office.
What is an Effective Technique for Reducing Stress Levels at Home and the Office?
Some effective techniques for reducing stress levels instantly at home and the office are:
- Take a deep breath in and out of your nose or mouth (you can also use your thumbs to help you breathe).
- Listening to calming music or listening to rain outside while you focus on your breathing.
- Meditating by focusing on your breath for 20 minutes each day.