I’m proud to say that I was the perfect poster boy for myself on how I switched between my work & family. Trust me, Having made deliberate choices about which opportunities I wanted to pursue and which to decline, I successfully engaged meaningfully with work, family and leisure.
But alas, over the last 9 months I have digressed from my own principles and work ethic – clocking 16+ working hours each day with few hours of sleep! Spending time on aircraft/airports every week; shifting my energy to pick up the work load of a new responsibility in a different country in a different time zone; and then trying my best to make up for lost time with my family, I’m inclined to say that I felt ‘cooked’ to the core! 🙁
For the first time I started to look at “work/life balance” in these 4 dimensions
- The culture of our organization
- The current phase we’re at in our career
- Our outlook to life: Many of us are accustomed to a set routine in our life. In my view, our home-rules have a huge influence on our outlook to work and life. If we enjoyed movies, sports, music, partying, family get-togethers, vacationing, and also studying while we were growing up, it’s very likely that we will NOT give up on these when working. We will somehow find a way to enjoy our pursuits of leisure by simply tweaking the equilibrium between work and life to the best of our ability.
- How much we enjoy work: I’ve come across many people who work on their laptop while at the office and then shift to their iPad/iPhone en-route and from home! These are people who never complain about having to intertwine work, family time and personal matters. In other words, not only do they enjoy work and are productive and successful at work, they also have the ability to make a fast switch from work to family. Then there is another category of people who completely switch off when they are at home or on vacations. Likewise, this group is efficient at work and is the pride plus joy of their employers! In my personal opinion, this is a great space to be in.
- The culture of our organization: Many organizations subtly or openly encourage employees to work long hours. When I say subtly, I’m referring to appreciating talents or managers who clock in long hours at the work place sometimes even during weekends. These include gatherings during late evenings; off-site assemblies and sending of emails on weekends, late nights and early mornings. Open ways of encouraging long hours such as these persuade many of us stay to late at work or to attend to work calls beyond humanly hours just to fit into the culture of the organization as important decisions are sometimes made during these “non-official” working hours. This somewhat makes those who thrive on balance to give up their personal time in order to fit in!
- The current career we’re at in our career: We land up in different situations in our career journey which might include start-ups; first job; landing the managerial post for the first time; turnaround tasks; enhanced/stretch roles; and a new boss which inevitably derail our aspirations to have a balanced life. Any one of these would call for some stretching to come up to speed. It is often said that the higher you climb the career/corporate ladder, the more hours you’ll clock at the work place. Ironically, I believe it should be the contrary – the higher up we scale, the less time we should be spending on and at work and this could be achieved by the mere shift of work strategies. But that’s another topic for a different day. 🙂
I realize that I have not listed choices of profession as another reason affecting “work/life balance”. Imagine being a doctor; or a cop; or a firefighter who has to rush for emergencies. I can’t even begin to picture balancing work and life in these professions! I’m lucky not to be in these vocations in which it is a necessity (and not a choice) to balance every single hour of the 24 hours of life each day!
How are you balancing?