Balancing the work-life scales

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The work life balance campaign was launched by the government in 2000 and reinforced with the DTI strategy Prosperity for All in 2003. It is recognised that flexible working practices that benefit both the employer and the individual will characterize the high performance workplaces of the future.

Yet with all this work life balance promotion, in a recent international survey random samples of employees were asked about the amount of time they felt they were able to spend with their families. In the UK 36% wanted to spend more time at home and the percentage in the US was 46%. Yet some parts of the world did much better such as Spain where only 8% wished for more time with their families. Warwick University studies have shown that stressas measured by medical mental health scoreshas worsened sharply in UK workers over the last decade.

Why do we have this obsession with work? It is excellent that employers are embracing a wide range of work balance options including flexible working and flexible benefit packages but what can we do as individuals to take ourselves off the proverbial treadmill.

Work life balance is not about an equal balance between each of your activities at all times. Life is much more fluid than that. Nor is it a perfect one size fits all balance, as we are all individuals with our own different priorities. Your work life balance will vary over time and at different stages in your life.

The start of balance is to have achievement and enjoyment in each of lifes quadrants. These four quadrants are:
Family
Friends and community
Work
Self

Ask yourself when was the last time you both achieved and enjoyed something in any of these 4 quadrants, and have you achieved and enjoyed something in all 4 in the last week. If the answer is yes then you are moving towards balance.

If the answer is no you may need to consider some changes to achieve more balance. Achievement and enjoyment are the front and back of the coin representing the value in life. You need both, just as you cannot have a one sided coin. Often many so called successful people are not happy as they are focusing so much on one side of the coin they forget about the other. If you aim for both achievement and enjoyment it helps avoid the life dulling habit of planning to get round to the joys of life. It is those thoughts that start with someday I will or as soon as start enjoying now.

At work create your own work life balance by making sure you not only achieve but also enjoy the job. If no one pats you on the back, pat yourself on your back. When you are a person that not only gets things done but also enjoys doing it, it will attract people to you. They will want to be on your team and for you to be in their team.

It is up to you to start to make the work life balance happen.

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