3 Tips On Making Work-Life Integration Work
As much as it would simplify things immensely, we don’t live in a black and white world. You can’t always draw a neat line between our responsibilities and leisure. In fact, many times, they overlap—especially in a world as hyperconnected as ours. Work-life balance, in particular, is something we all aspire to but often fall short of for various reasons; boundaries are important, but there’s no denying the fact that sometimes we have to deal with the spillover effect of work into life, and life into work.
Knowing this, then, a more realistic endeavour would be to figure out a way to blend both work and life, in keeping with our existing lifestyle—in other words, work-life integration. Instead of a neat separation between work and life, it advocates a seamless incorporation of the two hitherto separate realms.
That said, though, it comes with its own sets of challenges. While trying to blend work and life together, how can we be sure to keep the juggling act up without compromising either one and ending up being less efficient and more stressed at the same time?
1. Be realistic
So many people start off on the journey towards work-life integration wanting to get as much done in as little time as possible. It’s a noble intention, but the reality is you can’t expect yourself to be everywhere all at once.
A lot of the time, you put a lot more pressure on yourself than necessary by expecting yourself to go to the gym four times a week, volunteer at a local charity on the weekends, read one book a week, attend skills upgrading courses a few times a week—all on top of increasing your productivity and performance at work.
Just as optimising your productivity at work requires that you narrow down your focus and prioritise, it’s necessary to take the same approach when it comes to work-life integration. Look at which areas of your life need the most attention besides your working life—for example, your family life, personal health, emotional needs, and so on—and focus your work-life integration efforts on those aspects.
2. Learn to say no
Being overloaded and overworked often stems from trying too hard to be a people-pleaser. You can’t expect to pile up so much stuff on your plate without getting overwhelmed at one point or another.
Learning to say no to your co-workers and friends might seem hard at first because you don’t want to invite their disdain. Yet it’s essential to turn them down from time to time, depending on what your top priorities are at that particular point in time.
3. Build in quiet time every day
One of the greatest challenges to work-life integration is the difficulty of being mentally present. When you’re supposed to be contributing ideas and feedback in a meeting, your mind is elsewhere. You’re attending your daughter’s piano recital, but your mind is at work. The cycle continues until you find yourself missing out on opportunities both at work and in life, simply because you can’t be fully present.
Here’s the thing: the more responsibilities you’ve got, the more crucial it is for you to build in quiet time on a daily basis.
To that end, it’s crucial that you pick up a daily mindfulness practice of some sort to allow your brain to get used to being fully present in the moment. Research has shown, for instance, that meditating for just 10 minutes at the start and end of every day can make a huge difference in your ability to concentrate and focus on what’s directly ahead of you.