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The Work Life Balance See-Saw

Posted: January 17, 2012

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Are multiple commitments and shuttling between work and home modes leaving you stressed or feeling low? Learn the work-life balance.

By Aarti Krishnakumar

Creating a balance between work and life is a juggling game, and one that people master with time and experience. Everyone needs this balance, but it’s tough especially for mothers with children or those with elders at home who need additional care.

While they do not want to compromise on work quality, many organisations are coming to terms with the fact that people do need to spend time away from work and fulfill their personal commitments to boost their productivity. Productivity tips at work do stress on giving oneself sufficient downtime.

Scheduling: The working woman’s best friend

Says Archana Avinash, a Communications Executive, “I have a set schedule every day, which means setting aside specific time dedicated for the family and myself. There have been times when I was called in for a meeting on Thursday [our weekly offs are Thursday and Friday], but those are far and few between. I don’t blame my company, because when it is urgent, they require my presence, but otherwise they have not disturbed me during my days off. I feed in tasks and meetings into Google calendar and use the alerts to keep track of my schedules.

Anita Nandini, a HR consultant and Guest Lecturer for Management courses chips in, “Since my husband travels a lot, we try to create a schedule so we catch up with each other while he is in town. I have made it a point to take a few days off every month for a break. With clients, I ensure at the 1st meeting they are aware of my working hours and agree to them before taking on the project.

I feed in tasks and meetings into Google calendar and use the alerts to keep track of my schedules.

Be specific about non-tech zones

Being passionate about your work is good, but sometimes we let it take over our lives. This blurs the line, leaving us little energy or time away from work. It sounds good when you say, “I will not touch my Blackberry once I get home or I will check emails only once over the weekend”, but what happens when your colleague calls on Saturday morning asking for inputs? Stay focused and take a decision on what you will do post the call.  It is ok to be firm at work and explain to your colleagues that they can call you, but only in situations of real urgency. If your employer disagrees, look for ways around the problem (like asking around if your team or boss has any challenges on Friday afternoon, instead of waiting for them to call over the weekend) or see if you can convince them.

Another option is to create de-stress zones that take you away from technology. Archana says, “The best solution I discovered was to get out of the house, and spend as much time as possible outdoors, at the park or the beach.” Can you take a slight detour enroute home and get a massage? Or catch up with a friend over coffee before heading over for a meeting? These are simple things that are not only doable but that will help re-energize your spirits.

Creating a work mode that works for you

Creating a work mode that is right for you is easier when you have stayed with a firm for some years and people know your worth. Avni Rajesh Iyer, Asst. Vice President HNI Desk at Ventura Sec Ltd has a daughter who turns one in a few days time. She says, “I have been with this company for a while, and so when I got pregnant, I put down a few thoughts and shared it with my colleagues and boss. Weekends I don’t work, and during weekdays, I am out of the office by 6, especially since in a city like Mumbai the commute is long and tiring. Once every 3 months, I take off a few days and go on a holiday with my family. Every Saturday, I spend 2 hours with my daughter, when my phone is switched off and the rest of the world is left aside. My boss insisted I carry a Smartphone, so I am available round the clock; I complied but have set times to check emails and messages outside office hours.

My boss insisted I carry a Smartphone, so I am available round the clock; I complied but have set times to check emails and messages outside office hours.

Some mothers with young children move from employee to Consultant roles to find a better balance. Anita says, “I have spent upto 14 hours at office, getting home exhausted. But once my son was born, I had to take a conscious decision to change my life. I spoke to my Manager, explained my position and convinced them to let me work as a Consultant. This gave me time to take on other projects, and spend some time by myself, when my son was away at school.

In conclusion, while at work, create your own best work-life balance by making sure you focus on the task at hand, and complete it within set time frames. This gives you time out from work, and more for your personal life. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done and utilize that momentum to celebrate over a drink with friends or a movie.

*Photo credit: lululemon athletica

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