Balancing Work And Personal Life

[…] work/life balance is about working smarter, not longer.

Balanced Rocks Every once in a while, in all of the companies I’ve worked for, I’ve heard or got mail from HR talking about work/life balance. I’ve heard so much about it that it became almost like a mantra.

Why has work/life balance become such an important factor in the modern workplace?

Perhaps it has to do with overcoming remnants of the 80’s yuppie work culture, set by the late Baby Boomers and early Gen X’s, where working long hours was seen as something worthy of praise (think of Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street”). Thinking about it, I can’t help to relate this to that late industrialist mindset where production is directly related to the number of hours spent in production.

Personally I think that work/life balance is about working smarter, not longer. In the modern, knowledge workplace, it’s all about performance, not productivity. Most modern workplaces should produce value and not quantity. Quantity, or mass production, only scales as much as your workforce. Production of value, on the other hand, can scale much more with even a small workforce.

So what does this mean to later generation Gen X’s and especially Gen Y’s, the knowledge workers of the modern workplace?

I have to admit that I find myself in a constant struggle to achieve a good work/life balance, experiencing moments where it seems I’ve got it and moments where I realize I haven’t. However, from the moments that felt like I’ve got it, I’ve come to realize the following:

First of all, work and personal life can and should be complementary. No one can be truly fulfilled if he or she only focuses on one dimension of life. More importantly, we have to acknowledge both the importance a healthy work environment plays in the stability of our personal lives, and the importance a healthy personal and family life has on our work performance.

To achieve this, we have to be able to balance professional and personal goals. What I’ve found out was that I had clear business goals, but didn’t have any clearly set personal goals. We tend to pursue those goals we can track, so a lack of clearly established personal goals makes it much more likely that we focus on our work, overlooking our personal lives.

Additionally, to reach our personal and business goals, we have to effectively leverage our skills in both areas. We all have skills that we can use or apply to situations in our personal lives with the same level of success that we do at work. The opposite is also true. Many skills that we use in our personal lives can be leveraged effectively in the workplace. Think about the way you educate your children, or how you contribute to your community. I’m sure all of us can can find examples that apply here.

Did you know?

A very interesting, insightful and inspirational video on preparing students (and everyone of us) for the challenges of the XXI century.

The presentation is filled with interesting insights on the value of information and it’s rate of adoption, which is fundamental for all of us, who are fundamentally knowledge workers, to understand.

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