National Work Life Week aims to get both employers and their employees talking about wellbeing at work, and work life balance. A quick google will show you there are many myths and legends around work life balance, and this week our myth busters are taking them on to help you understand how to really work on your work life balance!
Myth #1 Work life balance means the amount of time you spend at work or at home.
Fiction! Work life balance does not refer to the literal time spent at work and on other activities. It is about achieving fulfilment in all areas of your life. We found this helpful definition “Meaningful daily achievement and enjoyment in each of my four life quadrants: work, family, friends and self.”
Myth #2 There is a one size fits all solution for achieving work life balance.
Lie! Work life balance looks different on everyone, because we all have our own individual definitions of fulfilment and enjoyment. It also changes throughout your life as your circumstances and experiences do.
Myth #3 You need to work long hours to build your career
Although it is a fact that some professions do demand long hours, or that there may be certain times when you may need to work some extra hours, working long hours as the norm can be counter-productive.
Myth #4 You need to compartmentalise your life to achieve good life work balance
There is a belief that to achieve balance we need to break our time throughout the day into work, rest, and leisure/social. There is a myth that this should be an even 8-8-8 hour split. The fact is that it isn’t always possible to do this and every day is not the same. There will be days when you may need to work 10 hours, but the trick is to offset this with days when you maybe work less than 8. Forcing yourself to compartmentalise your life only adds to the stress.
Myth #5 You just need to manage your time better
Traditional time management is an outdated concept, developed before we were connected 24/7. A better approach is to be selective in how you spend your time. Answering emails when you should be focussing on a family event, for example is perhaps not a good use of your time (or family relationships), but checking emails while on holiday could be worthwhile, if it means there is less stress on the first day back in the office. The key is to spend your energy on the right actions at the right time for you.
Myth #6 Everything has to be scheduled in
Although planning is beneficial and can reduce stress by being prepared, it isn’t beneficial to timetable every minute of your day. Leave time to relax, do nothing, or be spontaneous will have a big positive impact on your mental wellbeing.
Myth #7 Flexible working is the solution for work life balance
While we may enjoy flexibility in the workplace, and working from home during lockdown has certainly opened up conversations about flexible and hybrid working, it is not the priority for employees. Recognition and feeling acknowledged for a job well done is a far more powerful measure of happiness in the workplace.
Myth #8 You need to be up an early riser to be productive
Social media is full of people showing images of sunrises and boasting about their 5am starts which allows then to do an hour of yoga, a couple of hours intensive work, all before breakfast. Don’t get sucked into the hype. This may suit some people, but everyone’s body clock and life situation is different so it won’t suit everyone, and could just result in extending your working day, which over time could lead to burnout.
A better approach is to work around your personal productivity peaks. So if you are more alert and focused around mid-morning, it may not be beneficial to force yourself to wake up at 4.30am!
Myth #9 There is nothing you can do to improve your work life balance.
Myth! There is a lot you can do to work on your work life balance. You can try making sure you take your screen breaks and annual leave, getting daily outside exercise (time in nature is proven to promote your wellbeing) and setting clear boundaries between work and personal time. This means giving yourself a set time to finish work and log off even if you are working from home, it also means reserving your break time for taking personal calls or messages.