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Work-life balance; What Does that Really Mean?

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Work-life balance is a term used for the idea that you need time for both work and other aspects of life, whether those are family-related or personal interests. The saying goes that ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’.But work, or at least some kind of contributory effort, whether paid or voluntary, is often recognized as being important for personal satisfaction, so it seems likely that ‘all play’ would be dull too.

The Origin of the Idea of ‘Work-Life Balance’
The idea that rest is vital for productive work goes back millennia.

“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”

-Genesis 2:2

In the 1800s, during and following the industrial revolution, industrialists and unions alike agreed that workers needed a day off. This later became a two-day ‘weekend’. But in those days, ‘work’ was mostly manual, and once workers left the site, they also left their work behind. They were genuinely able to rest, away from work, without having to think about it or worry about what might be going on in their absence.

Times have changed dramatically.

The phrase ‘work-life balance’ is rather more recent in origin. It was probably first used in the UK in the late 1970s, and in the US in the mid-1980s. It has, however, taken on a new meaning with the recent technological changes that have made it possible for workers to stay in touch 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Smartphones, remote working technology and the like have meant that, even on holiday, people find it hard to ‘switch off’ and genuinely rest, and the complaint is often that people are expected to be ‘on-call’ at all times, without being allowed to have a life outside work.

The Importance of Work-Life Balance

Before anything else can be considered, basic physiological needs such as food, water, and shelter must be provided. After that, people need to feel safe, and then to be loved and belong to a group.

They then move on to issues of self-esteem, cognitive needs, and aesthetic needs, and finally, at the top of the pyramid, there is self-actualization, or achieving your full potential as a human being.

What this means in practice is that work provides for basic needs: money earned provides food, and shelter, and a regular income means safety. Work also allows people to belong to a group, and doing well at work boosts self-esteem. The lower levels are all largely met through aspects of working.

Stress and Rest

As our page on Stress explains, while some level of stress can be very productive, prolonged and high levels of stress can lead to mental health problems, including burnout and depression. These are not just personal problems: time off work for mental health problems is extremely expensive for businesses.

It is well-documented that rest and, particularly, being able to detach from work is vital for reducing stress.

With almost half of people reporting that their jobs are either ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressful in a survey in the US, this means that the idea of a work-life balance is increasingly important to the economy.

Achieving a Work-Life Balance:
A Suggested Process
Achieving a work-life balance can be a challenge, but these ideas should help you to make a start:

1. What is the nature and scale of the problem?
Before you can make things better, you have to understand the problem.

Try keeping a diary for a week, and set out how much time you spend on each activity, both at work and outside. That will give you an idea of your current work-life balance. You may also find it helpful to separate chores, including driving children to activities, and ‘fun’.

Once you can see how your life separates into work and ‘other’, and into chores and fun, you can start to work out how to make changes to improve the balance.

2. Identify the ideal scenario
In many ways, this process is a bit like strategic thinking.

First, you need to know where you are, then where you want to be. Think about how you would like your life to look.

What would be the ideal balance between work and home?
How would you like to be spending your time?

Top tip: Clocks

One very useful technique for this is ‘clocks’.

Draw two clock faces on a page, one for an ideal weekday and one for an ideal day at the weekend.

Split the day up into chunks to show how you would like to spend it: how much time in bed, how much time doing chores and other necessary but boring things, how much time working, and how much time on other things.

Be specific about the other things, whether those are playing with the children, practicing a musical instrument or learning a language. The discipline of having a clock face forces you to fit your activities into the time available, and you can see whether your ambitions are realistic.

You can expand this to seven clock faces, one for each day of the week, if you wish.

3. What changes do you need to make to get from ‘now’ to ‘future’?
Look at your current situation and at your ideal scenario.

Identify three to five key changes that will help you to move from ‘now’ to ‘future’. For example, if you have identified that you want to confine weekend overtime to an hour in the evening on Sunday night, then what do you need to do to achieve that?

Concrete steps that you could take include:

  • Telling your colleagues that you will not be checking emails at the weekend;.
  • Putting an out-of-office notification on your email to remind people;.
  • Putting your work phone and computer away somewhere during the weekend. If your work emails come to.
  • your personal smartphone, then remove the account, or get a dedicated phone for work; and.
  • Telling your family what you intend so that if they catch you checking emails they can remind you.

You can take control of your life, and make time for the things that matter to you, but nobody else is going to do that for you. If you want to spend more time out of work, then you will have to start leaving work earlier or arriving later.

You may need to learn to be more assertive with your colleagues, and particularly start to say ‘no’, if anyone asks you to take on more (and see our page on Assertiveness Techniques for some helpful tips).But once you start looking to make changes, you may be surprised how easy it is to achieve a better work-life balance.

Achievement and Enjoyment are the front and back of the coin of value in life. You can’t have one without the other, no more than you can have a coin with only one side. Trying to live a one sided life is why so many “Successful” people are not happy, or not nearly as happy as they should be.

You cannot get the full value from life without BOTH Achievement and Enjoyment. Focusing on Achievement and Enjoyment every day in life helps you avoid the “As Soon As Trap”, the life dulling habit of planning on getting around to the joys of life and accomplishment “as soon as….”

My caffeine source is diet cola. But I’m a somewhat fussy diet cola drinker. I don’t like cans or bottles, I like fountain. And there is a big difference in fountain drinks. So I know all the best fountains within a five-mile radius of my house and office. My favorite is a little convenience store near my home called Fitzgerald’s.

The concept of work-life balance is continually evolving, with workers across different generations having their own what it means and how it should be achieved.

Because work-life balance is so personal, it’s natural that its definition will vary according to many factors such as life stage, family commitments, health conditions, personal events and changes, and our personality types and attitudes to life.

In fact, there are almost as many definitions of work-life balance as there are people in the working population.

But if there’s a common thread in the various thoughts on work-life-balance, it’s the minimization of work-related stress, and the establishing of a stable and sustainable way to work while maintaining health and general well being – something that may not always be achievable within the 9-5 desk-based working week.

Conclusion

A key issue in the work-life balance debate is where responsibility lies for ensuring employees have a good work-life balance. The general feeling is that employers have a responsibility to the health of their employees; apart from the moral responsibility, stressed-out employees are less productive and more likely to make errors.

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Inspirational

World Bicycle Day

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June 3 – World Bicycle Day

In April 2018, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 3 as International World Bicycle Day. World Bicycle Day draws attention to recognise the longevity, uniqueness, and versatility of the bicycle, and that it is an affordable, reliable, simple, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transport.

Bicycle Day Quotes

She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life. – Susan B. Anthony

I love a bicycle, and I haven’t been without at least one since I was three years old. – James May

Education is a continual process, it’s like a bicycle… If you don’t pedal you don’t go forward. – George Weah

You can’t be sad while riding a bicycle. – Lola Yayo

What do you call a cyclist who doesn’t wear a helmet? An organ donor. – David Perry

Life is like riding a bicycle: you don’t fall off unless you stop pedaling. Claude Pepper

 

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First Day at School

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Most Inspiring First Day School Quotes

“All children start their school careers with sparkling imaginations, fertile minds, and a willingness to take risks with what they think.” – Ken Robinson

“I’ve always loved the first day of school better than the last day of school. Firsts are best because they are beginnings.” – Jenny Han

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” – Charles Dederich“You’re off to great to great places. Today is your first day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” – Dr. Seuss

“Someone will always be prettier. Someone will always be smarter. Someone will always be faster. But they will never be you” –

“The most important day of a person’s education is the first day of school, not Graduation Day.” – Harry Wong

“Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom.”–Oprah Winfrey

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”–W.B.Yeats

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”–Richard Branson

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Inspirational

Thoughts on Minimalism

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Thoughts on Minimalism

Minimalism is not all about implementing a frugal lifestyle. It is a mindset and attitude towards life. There are no certain ruls for being a minimalist. It is a journey to remove all unwanted stuffs from your life, internally and externally. Here are a few thoughts.

  • Stop buying thing you don’t need.
  • Realize happiness does not come from “things”.
  • Stop comparing yourself with others.
  • Learn to complain less.
  • Do something that makes you happy everyday.
  • Focus on Quality not Quantity.
  • Exercise.
  • Be grateful for what you have.

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