Why maintaining a work-life balance should not only be possible, but a priority. [TWEET]
Some people will tell you that in an always-on digital world, there's no such thing as a balanced work-life relationship. Your phone is always with you, which means emails, texts, and other private notifications are always a ping away.
Despite being a prisoner to a mobile phone myself, I'm going to take the balance side, and here's why you should, too:
Your work means nothing (heck, you potentially won't even be able to work) if your workload and associated work stress causes you to be unhealthy.
If you can't draw the line between work and home, both usually suffer. Split attention equals haphazard results. Ironically, overwork and work stress actually make you less efficient even though you're spending more time working. Fact: The 6-day workweek used to be a U.S. standard, until Ford Motor Co. saw increased productivity in its early 20th-century assembly lines after giving employees an entire 2-day weekend.
When you don't get a chance to recharge and attend to all of your other human needs that are essential for a balanced life, you are more likely to get irritated, mistake-prone or worse, burned out. This burnout can apply not only to work, but also to life in general as these boundaries get blurred. Do you know anybody who hates their job and talks about it all the time because it affects their everyday mood? You don't want to be that person. With a balanced life, you won't be.
The more you let work stress creep into everyday life (or the longer you go without taking an extended break from work), the more you want to tear your hair out. Productivity and mental clarity decrease. You're more likely to be sensitive to little negative things that usually wouldn't affect you because you can't get enough distance to take the proper perspective.
Your career prospects
Burnouts tend to linger for longer than peak productivity lasts … if you don't get fired first. Better to either reinvigorate your job at your current organization by striking the right work-life balance or take a proactive look elsewhere if the organization will not support your needs. Remember, employers and employees both have a responsibility to promote productivity and mutually beneficial value.
Unless you have the most interesting and varied job in the world, you're only going to be a one-dimensional human being if you never get outside of it. Don't be boring! Fresh perspectives gained from hobbies, interests, and outside reading are going to make you better at your job and a balanced life. You will have more diverse and creative ways to think about what you do, which makes for better output (not to mention a more engaged working experience).
If you work at least 8 hours a day Monday-Friday and sleep at least another 7, that leaves no more than 9 hours for the rest of your life on weekdays. In other words, you probably spend at least nearly half your weekday waking life at work for a large portion of your adult years (outside of grad school or retirement). If work fills up increasingly more of that waking time, it dominates your life. And chances are, you want to do more with your life than work, even if you love your job.
So, when people tell you there's no such thing as work-life balance, tell them you don't appreciate their cynicism. The balanced life fairy does exist, and she's good to people who take the time to address their full needs as human beings … or at least know when to call it a day.
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