The problem with the work-life balance

By Jane Barlow

“Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life” (Dolly Parton).

We hear so much these days about the “work-life balance”. In a study published in 2018, the online retailer Mahabis found that the UK was the country in Western Europe with the worst work-life balance, with many employees working in excess of 50 hours per week.

With the current social distancing measures in place, many employees are now working from home. This makes the separation between the workplace and the home environment even more difficult to achieve as the distinctions between work and home become even more blurred.

Work-life Balance

What is it? – WLB is the amount of time that you, as an individual, give to your work versus the time given to other aspects of your life, such as family, friends, hobbies and anything else – except work!

Why is WLB important? – WLB is essential when it comes to leading a happy and productive lifestyle. With your WLB in good shape you:

  • Avoid the dreaded “burn out”;
  • Reduce stress; and
  • Attain fulfilment in both your personal and career goals.

Why does it go wrong? – There can be many reasons why WLB goes awry sometimes. Some of the most common are:

  • A failure to set realistic boundaries and to create some “me” time;
  • A failure to set your priorities;
  • Always saying “yes”.

What can you do to put it right? – The solution is often dependent on individual factors and may, in part, be determined by career and personal goals, but can include:

  • Set clear distinctions between work and personal time. This can include setting your working hours for the day and sticking to that timetable. If you have access to work related messages, e-mails etc, outside of work hours, make a resolution to not look at those messages outside of work hours.
  • Set realistic and achievable goals both at work and at home. Manage your time effectively. Remember, if it’s urgent and important – do it now; if it’s not urgent and it’s not important – ignore it.

  • And this is the BIG ONE! Learn to say “No”. This is the daddy of them all; once you learn that sometimes it is okay to say no, then it becomes much easier to create realistic boundaries; manage your time; and arrange for some time just for you.

It is very easy to overwork and to try and take on everything that is asked of you. In reality, you have only a finite amount of time and energy available each day and much of that should be allotted to your life away from work. Therefore, sometimes, you simply have to say no, in order to enjoy your life away from the office.

Creating and living with a WLB is a vital part of our day to day lives. Getting it right will help to:

  • Improve your health and wellbeing;
  • Bring greater productivity to your work; and
  • Enable you to enjoy your work and life a whole lot more.

“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night” (Marilyn Monroe).


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