All work and no play? You can fix that…
No matter how much time you spend on your career (and on other aspects of your life), you’ve probably asked yourself the age-old question: is it ever possible to juggle work and home life effectively? Well, the answer could depend on how well you integrate it – rather than simply relying on getting the balance right.
To help you figure out how to incorporate it (and to give you an idea of what it is), here’s everything you need to know about work-life integration:
What is work-life balance?
Work-life balance is the amount of time a person gives to their professional and personal lives respectively.
An even work-life balance is encouraged in order to maintain workplace wellbeing and fulfilment in your life outside of work – helping to reduce stress, avoid burning out, and fulfil goals in both areas of life.
However, it isn’t always easy, with many people struggling to prioritise tasks evenly and create realistic boundaries between work and home life.
Example of work-life balance: using your lunch break to walk your dog.
What is work-life integration?
With the development of technology and our growing reliance on our devices, creating a strict division between your home and work life is becoming increasingly difficult.
This means forming an even work-life balance can sometimes feel like an impossible task. In fact, few of us completely unplug when we go home (or even go on holiday), resulting in work related duties regularly spilling over into our personal lives.
So instead of separating the two completely, work-life integration aims to unify your personal and work life way that complements both areas (as opposed to them competing with each other).
Example of work-life integration: bringing your dog to work.
What are the benefits of work-life integration?
Work-life integration is a great way to give equal time and attention to all areas of your life, without having to sacrifice one for the other.
- It’s more realistic. Whilst creating a division between work and home might be your goal, it isn’t always doable – which can mean your mood is affected if the balance is altered (e.g. you have to work overtime).
- A new outlook on work. Combining work with your personal life could make your day-to-day less monotonous. Instead of counting down the hours until you’re able to spend time with your family, you could be working from home and enjoying their company simultaneously.
- It’s a great way to prioritise effectively. By mixing up your ‘9-to-5’ with both work and home-based duties, you’ll be able to manage your tasks in a way that suits your needs. This could mean working in the morning followed by going to the gym, making dinner, and/or picking up the kids, then making up the time by doing work-based duties in the evening.
Work-life integration examples
- Leaving work early and answering emails from home
- In-office yoga, exercise, and walking clubs
- Bringing your child to work after school
- Being sponsored by your business to take a course in something you’re passionate about
How to create work-life integration
Ask for flexible working hours. Firstly, check to see if your employer has any existing flexi time policies in place. If they don’t, do your research, speak to your manager, and ask for flexible working hours using the right to request flexible working application form.
Figure out your needs. Work-life integration doesn’t look the same for everyone – and how you choose to organise your time will depend on both your professional and personal commitments. So in order to strive for it, prioritise your tasks first.
Make a schedule. Once you’ve decided what you need to fit in, making a schedule should be easy. Just make sure you plan in accordance to your body clock. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Whichever time you feel the most productive, schedule your most important work, and whenever you feel burnt out, allow yourself to recharge.
Coordinate your plans. If you have a family and/or significant other, ensure you arrange your time in conjunction with theirs – whether it’s alternating the school pick up or allowing time to have breakfast together a few days a week.After all, work-life integration should make your life easier, not harder.
Put productivity above hours. It can be all too easy to associate the amount of time you spend at work with productivity – but this isn’t always a great measure of your contribution. Instead, focus on the value you create, giving yourself deadlines (and rewards) for everything you do.
Keep some boundaries. Whilst work-life integration is often a useful way to fulfil your personal and career goals simultaneously, there is such a thing as overdoing it. And nobody expects you to merge both areas of your life completely. Pay attention to your wellbeing and overall happiness and, crucially, do what’s right for you. It might not work for everyone – but done right, work-life integration could be key to improving your career happiness.
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