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3 simple ways to strike work-life balance

By Dr Ramesh Babu Byrapaneni
October 11, 2015 13:00 IST
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The attempt here is to elaborate on the cues to work on, in everyday life, that make life and work more gratifying.

If you've figured how to strike the balance between work and personal commitments amidst the hustle and bustle of city-life, I would call you rare and successful. We all know how unhealthy lifestyles affect us, but we're so overwhelmed in the race to win that new client, sell that boring product, add that additional feature to the product and bill that additional hour -- that we tend to forget what's most important -- good health and peace of mind.

Specifically for those young professionals working long, stressful hours, it is time to take a step back and think -- where do we draw the line?

Work-life balance refers to a consistent fulfillment of personal motives of an individual, in addition to their professional goals. Companies too acknowledge the need to strike this balance. Their idea is simple -- the happier an individual is, the more productive they become; and from the angle they see, it just means one thing -- more money. So, they do not mind; in fact, a lot of companies are proactive in ensuring their employees find their work-life balance. It is a clear win-win.

However, over time it's been noticed that there is only so much that a company can do about each employee's life. While they can introduce policies and engagement initiatives that offer employees flexibility to prioritise and allocate time, their scope ends there. In the end, it is up to the individuals to decide -- where, when and how to draw the line between 'work' and 'life'.

My attempt here is to elaborate on the cues to work on, in everyday life that make life and work more gratifying.

Conserve your rarest resource – Time

The three key words are -- Priority, priority and priority.

Remember, if you don't know what in life, to put first and what next, no one else does. Spearhead your life; if you have to make a choice between a late-evening meeting and a family function -- put no one but you in-charge of taking the decision. Your time is yours, and it is precious -- you decide what deserves your attention, and how you spend it.

What I often notice is that when someone figures s/he lacks the 'time-resource', the first thing s/he cuts out is exercise. This doesn't make any sense. Health is a primary responsibility. Being fit further helps gather a few extra active hours that you can then dedicate to whatever means most to you -- work, a hobby, a relationship or a book. Similar to financial investments choose small time-investments that promise large paybacks -- walk around the office more often; drink water at regular intervals and have timely meals. All these definitely add up.

Allocate time for personal development

They say, loving what you do and doing what you love is the solution to most work-life balance problems. Truth is -- that's the definition of a dream job -- a job that you have 'only in your dreams'.

A typical job-role will always contain a mix of things you like working on, and things you don't. So, what's to be done? Categorise the part of your workday that you enjoy most. Try finishing the more mundane, boring tasks before you get to the best part of the day -- that way, you'll surely leave office happier.

Secondly, create new ways to make life more enjoyable. There's an interesting study that shows that in people who approach work strictly academically, systematically, it is just the right side of the brain that's in action. While this ensures that logical reasoning is sound, it doesn't excite the left-part of the brain that triggers innovation. It's proven that creative interests like art, music, dance or gardening have the capacity to light up your left-brain as well, making way for an all-rounded personality.

Even at work get creative; if you are the outgoing type -- look for networking opportunities beyond your team, or request to work out of another branch for a week or so, just to learn something new. Start a club, share ideas, exchange experiences and make your time worth it. If you are a reserved person discover a new book, pick up a new hobby or revive an old one, and dedicate time to pursue whatever you pick.

Besides all this, there is one skill that is of utmost importance in helping you make the most of your time; the ability to politely say -- No.

Never allow yourself to be guilt-tripped into accepting work that isn't your responsibility. It is okay to help out others, but do so, only when you really want to, and not to avoid the risk of upsetting people.

Technology is a servant; not the master

Finally, use technology to your advantage. If your company allows remote access, make use of the opportunity to spend more time with family. At the same time, make sure you are not becoming a slave to your gadgets. Allow yourself some time without your mobile phone; just make sure you keep your team informed about your regular time-offs.

To make your work-life interesting and productive, the most vital thing is that you take the lead. My suggestions are only indicative of how you can coordinate an enjoyable lifestyle, not lose your sanity at home or at office, and make life more rewarding. However, they are only useful, when you decide that you want to change things.

Like I said, it is your life. You take the lead.

Photograph: Into Somerset/Creative Commons

Dr Ramesh Babu Byrapaneni, an investor, entrepreneur and cardiologist, is a board member at iKeva.

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Dr Ramesh Babu Byrapaneni