Dear PR Matters,
I am fortunate to be part of a company that puts a lot of importance on work-life balance. We have had some seminars on this, but feel that achieving a work-life balance is challenging, and much of it depends on our day to day living.
Please let me know how I can work on and balance this on my own.
Thank you for your letter. Work-life balance is indeed a buzzword in many corporations today, and you are lucky to be part of a company that espouses this.
With many of us juggling heavy workloads, managing relationships and family responsibilities, and squeezing in outside interests, it’s no surprise that many of us can feel super stressed. And stress can make us irritable and stressed, and harm our personal and professional relationships.
Mental Health America also says that “over time, stress weakens our immune system, and makes us susceptible to a variety of ailments from colds to backaches to heart disease.”
On the other hand, “when workers are balanced and happy, they are more productive, take fewer sick days and are more likely to stay in their jobs.”
You are fortunate to be part of a company where work-life balance is assisted by employers who institute policies, procedures, actions and expectations that enable employees to easily pursue more balanced lives.
But you are right in saying that how you will achieve that balance will ultimately depend on you. We will attempt to help you answer this in column, first by listing down what not to do, and next week sharing tips for a successful work-life balance.
In an article in Inc.com, James Sudakow talks about 8 Daily Habits that are Making your Work-Life Balance Goals Unattainable. Sudakow, who himself has learned that “it is a very delicate balance to achieve without destroying the success you’ve experienced at work.”
After speaking with working parents, business owners, employees, and leaders in many companies, he has identified “eight daily habits that, without careful reflection and consideration for appropriate change, can work-life balance unattainable. He lists eight traps and some solutions:
The trap of the superhero syndrome, which is about “the detrimental effects of thinking you can do everything.”
Sudakow’s solution: “Practice ruthless prioritization. Most of us can actually pile it all on our backs and get it done. Some of us have achieved success because of that ability.”
“I implemented the ‘rule of three’ to force prioritization on only mission critical things on the work and life fronts.”
The trap of artificial urgency, the tendency to label things are urgent even if they really aren’t.
Sudakow’s solution: “Build specific ‘urgency filters’ based on real criteria that are specific enough that you can objectively reconcile what is truly urgent [both inside and outside of work].”
The trap of undefined boundaries is about multitasking and blending everything together with no clear lines in the sand.
Sudakow’s solution: “Practice strict compartmentalization between work and life. This is easier said than done when you consider that technology breaks down barriers and makes us always accessible.”
The trap of no buffer zone, which means unintentionally not leaving any time for the unexpected and unanticipated.
Sudakow’s solution: “This happens when we simply take on too much, but also happens when we don’t have realistic expectations [or lack patience] on how long things take to do. To solve this, you can formally implement an arbitrary 50 percent bugger into everything you do.”
The trap of constant triage, which some of us call firefighting, but is really living in a reactive state resulting from lack of time to think about what you really want and need in work and life.
Sudakow’s solution: “First, formally insert focused work-life thinking and planning time into your day every day. As your life evolves, you may need to broaden your approach to thinking.”
The trap of chasing time, which means the tendency to focus on what’s next instead of being in the moment and appreciating what you are doing right now.
Sudakow’s solution: “Commit to living in the moment, and use prompts during small life events to keep you from jumping into “next thing thinking.”
The trap of late nights getting it all done, the pressure of trying to finish things when you are drained after long days.
Sudakow’s solution: “Even if you are a hard-core night person, commit to the dawn patrol and implement formal cut-off times the night before to make sure you can get up early.”
The trap of forgetting about yourself or unintentionally making yourself the odd person out with all that work and life entail.
Sudakow’s solution: “As life gets complicated when it isn’t just about you anymore, it is easy to make doing for everyone else the priority. To solve this common problem, you can implement a daily restorative activity” like piano, painting or exercise.
We will discuss more about work-life balance in next week’s column.
PR Matters is a roundtable column by members of the local chapter of the United Kingdom-based International Public Relations Association (Ipra), the world’s premier association for senior professionals around the world. Millie Dizon, the senior vice president for marketing and communications of SM, is the former local chairman.