Q&A: How do I Have Work-Life Balance?

Question: My work is overwhelming me and I barely have any time for myself. My stress from work is also straining my relationships with my loved ones and my family. What can I do?

Answer: Trying to dredge a semblance of a work-life balance from your hectic schedule is a constant bugbear for many working professionals in Singapore. As the projects begin to pile up, you often find yourself having to take work home and slog through it late into the night.

Modern technology also ensures that employees are always contactable, making it even harder to detach yourself from your work. If this continues, it is all too easy for the divide between work and life to begin to blur and before you know it – your work IS your life!

Maintain Boundaries
One of the ways to reconstruct the much-needed divide between work and life would be laying down clear boundaries. These can take many forms, from clearly stating when you are contactable or ‘out-of-office’ (and actually sticking to it), to making an effort to block out certain after-work hours where you should not let work interfere with your time off.

If you make yourself available to clients round the clock, they will come to expect it and it will become even harder to take a step back from work. You could also avoid scrambling to respond to emails the minute they come in. Instead, tell clients you will get back to them within 24 hours, thus enforcing a time buffer between you and them and giving yourself some breathing room.

It is also important to actively schedule down time for yourself or your family, the way you would schedule a business meeting. This is the best way for you to set down a clearly palpable boundary between home and the office. Of course, this boundary is meaningless if you do not stick to it. When with family or friends, put your phone away so you’re not distracted by an incoming phone call or email. Commit to socialising with the people who don’t actually work in your office and remind yourself that you might work there, but this is your life.

Even during a hectic day, you can carve out small slices of time for relaxation. When the going gets particularly tough, take the time to listen to a few of your favourite tunes or read something short and interesting. A little relaxation goes a long way!

Get Out and Run
Although it might seem counterintuitive, a recent study suggests that exercising might actually help you feel in more control of your work-life balance. According to study researcher Russell Clayton, an Assistant Professor of Management at Saint Leo University, “Exercise is a way to psychologically detach from work – you're not there physically and you're not thinking about it either – and, furthermore, it can help us feel good about ourselves.”

The study also found that people who exercised regularly reported experiencing less stress at work and had greater confidence in handling conflicts between work and family. Furthermore, exercise produces endorphins, which are essentially a feel-good hormone and a natural painkiller.

In other words, while exercise doesn’t actually reduce your workload (and it’s tough to go work up a sweat after having sweated through a long day at work), it might make a difference in how you feel about it and consequently help you to better deal with it. After all, there is no objective measure for having a proper work-life balance and having a more positive and resilient attitude might be all you need to step up and take control of your work – and your life.

How else do you unwind? Share with us in the comment box below!

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