We’ve previously discussed the idea of transitioning from a work-life balance mindset to a work-life integration mindset. Here’s how to get started.
By Anita Murphy
You’re juggling it all: your small business, kids, home projects, social obligations… and you can forget about “me time.” If even just thinking about how to balance everything gives you anxiety, you’re not alone. In fact, 60% of Americans encounter difficulties in maintaining a balance between their work and personal lives.
With the rise of technology, many business cultures and job prospects have changed. The outcome: an opportunity for a more integrated blending of your work and personal lives.
It may seem like the goal should be work-life balance, but it’s actually work-life integration. Instead of struggling to determine a balance between life and work, work-life integration involves discovering ways to continuously flux them instead.
As discussed in the Harvard Business Review, inter-mixing home activities, community circle, and personal well-being with your work life can lead to greater contentment and success.
Getting to work-life integration
Everyone has different goals for their personal and professional lives; there is no one-size-fits-all solution. While work-life integration is an overall strategy, it can take on different forms for each individual. It just depends on where you are in life’s stages, what kind of person you are and what you need out of life.
So, how do you get there? Here are seven ways to help achieve work-life integration:
1. Fuse your responsibilities: Create a list of the responsibilities in your life that are most important to you and how you would prefer to spend your time. Take a look at that list and then brainstorm small changes you can make to blend your responsibilities. Schedule work calls while you’re driving your kids around, read over work documents while waiting at appointments or invite your family to accompany you on a work trip. Instead of weighing one part of your life against the other, try to come up with ways to overlap your responsibilities. You will feel like a more complete (and probably less stressed, happier) version of yourself.
2. Commit to productivity: Measuring productivity by the number of hours put in rather than outcomes achieved is a flawed approach. Focus on the value you create rather than increasing the number of hours you clock in. Utilize the time of day that you are most productive – whether you work better early in the morning or late at night. And, take advantage of technology that allows you to complete tasks more conveniently. The more committed you are to using the proper resources, the more satisfied you’ll be at home and in the office.
3. Excel in the art of time management: You cannot achieve work-life integration without excellent time management skills. This includes building a routine that fits with your lifestyle, effectively prioritizing tasks, committing an appropriate amount of time to each task and delegating when necessary. While effective multitasking is another good time management skill, be sure to only integrate work with personal tasks when it makes sense to do so. The “give and take” status that’s inherent to work-life integration should occur without any notable sacrifice on either side.
4. Prioritize passion and purpose: To achieve an effective work-life integration, you must love your work. And, part of loving your work is knowing you are achieving what you’ve set out to do. Set specific goals for yourself both professionally and personally and identify a timeline and tactics to accompany each goal. When you are passionate about what you do and are consistently working with a purpose, work-life integration flows more naturally.
5. Take advantage of your ideal work environment: Everybody has a different way in which they work best. Does working from home make it easier for you to focus? Are you more productive when you’re working face-to-face with your team? Try your best to embrace your preference as much as possible. The more you’re able to work in your preferred environment, the more productive you’ll become across all aspects of your life.
6. Align your expectations and transform your thinking: We tend to have high expectations when it comes to what we can accomplish and how quickly. Be realistic and patient with yourself. You are one person – and “business owner” is just one of the hats you’re tasked with wearing every day. By transforming your thinking away from “balance” – where you struggle to maintain that perfect position – and focusing more on “integration,” you allow yourself to live a more flexible, less overwhelming life.
7. Don’t let guilt and burnout hijack your life: The feeling of guilt has no place in work-life integration. Feeling guilty about not working inevitably leads to burnout. Despite 67% of Americans feeling like they need more time for themselves, one-third feel guilty about it. Industry experts suggest you drop the notion that you’re expected to be working at all times.
Successful work-life integration plays a vital role in our overall wellness, mental health, work productivity, social engagement and career achievements.
Over to you!
Constantly treading between your work and personal lives can be overwhelming. Being pulled in both directions while trying to remain balanced can feel like a struggle to keep your head above water. Instead, focus more on integrating your work responsibilities with your personal life. When you stop seeing it as a trade off, and more of a harmonious coexistence, you’re sure to achieve higher productivity and find greater enjoyment in all aspects of your life.
Anita Murphy is founder and CEO of Onebridge Center, which is focused on empowering individuals to achieve what’s possible. The center provides skills training through both job readiness training to assist individuals in breaking barriers to employment and corporate training for companies and organizations looking to upskill their workforce. If your company would like to have a discussion about your training needs, please contact Anita at (330) 267-7556 or drop her a line at email@example.com.