Walking on the Tightrope of Work-Life Balance

Reports indicate that in India each year 2000 students die by suicide, in cases related to examination pressure and failure


Credits: Thought Catalog

June 10, 2022

If we were to count the number of times we complained about work stress on an average day, perhaps most of us would qualify for the ‘once per every waking hour’ clique.

Stress at work doesn’t just influence our performance at work, it also percolates into our personal lives, often eating into our involvement at home, or with our own selves and our recreational passions.

Seldom does one encounter a workspace that doesn’t have a team of employees competent in not just what the job demands of them, but also in myriad talents that serve as food(s) for the soul.
Be it the gifted singer who can’t make time for riyaaz, but will be sure to infuse their respite-laden humming through the adjacent cubicle, or the budding comedian who’s struggling to fit writing a set into his schedule but will make you cackle each time you hangout near the coffee machine.

We’re surrounded by people who’d be masters in an artistic or athletic ability, “if it weren’t for work.” Full disclosure, we may even be among them.

However, as common as our own tribe of closeted geniuses, there’s another that seems to be able to ‘do it all’ often garnering titles such as ‘all-rounders’ or ‘superhumans’ from our aspiring lot.
We mean the doctor who posted a video of himself hiking in the Himalayas, or the entrepreneur who instagrammed herself showcasing the latest song she learnt to play on her guitar.
Who are these people and where do they come from?

Before you slip off into the tangent of theorising this holy species’ origin, we’ll let you in on a secret. This cohort has cracked the code for something known as ‘work-life balance.’

This is a term that’s been around for quite some decades but is a skill that many of us are yet to develop. About 60% of Indian working professionals rate their current work-life balance between average to terrible, according to a 2019 report by The Economic Times.

Credits: Victoria Heath

In the following year, the pandemic made things worse. 70% of professionals who transitioned to remote work due to covid-19, reported working on weekends by the end of 2020.

There’s a clear need to claim the ‘life’ in ‘work-life balance.’

So how do we do it, in an accessible, achievable manner?
Let’s crack the code!

  1. Avoid Multitasking, Embrace Single Tasking!
    For far too long, we have believed multitasking to be a tool to maximise our productivity, leading us to undermine the effectiveness of complete focus dedicated to a single task.
    Single-tasking makes room for more accurate results, thereby leaving us with the time, which was once spent correcting errors, or revising a prior poorly (i.e., half-mindedly) made submission.

Credits: Luis Vilasmil

  1. Set Boundaries

    Boundaries can be drawn both in terms of time and space. This could translate into the resolve of not working beyond a certain time, and/or not taking office work home. By blurring the line between work and home, we end up diluting the scope for self-care, and self-nurturing.

    When the office becomes the only designated workspace, the home, by default, becomes the designated personal space. The home then has the freedom and elasticity of being the place that nourishes you both physically and mentally.

3. Accept: There Will Never be a ‘Right’ Time

We often trick ourselves by waiting for our emotions to change, without changing our behaviour.
In fact, a change in behaviour is our best and most tangible shot at changing our emotions and thoughts.

Hence, waiting to meet a particular standard of performance at work, as a precondition to “earn” your work-life balance, may in fact be preventing you from meeting that standard in the first place.

Better balance would ensure a better headspace, thereby allowing you to maximise your potential.

4. Identify what Qualifies as Relaxation
If you do in fact, find time away from work, and are still struggling to feel like you have a life outside of your profession, maybe it’s time to step back and assess how you spend your “free time.”

While scrolling on your phone watching cat videos for some minutes is great, the same does not hold true for hours. Content consumption demands engagement from many of our senses simultaneously. This leaves us feeling just as exhausted as real work.

It’s essential to carve out time for sensory rest and engage in activities that employ different senses in different capacities. This is when the pursuit of our hobbies becomes key. We invest time developing habits we enjoy and derive not just a sense of calm at the end, but also gratification.

In sum, as precarious as it may seem to achieve work-life balance, it is in fact, attainable when approached one step at a time, and brings the sweet reward of determining our worth from a yardstick other than that of our professional productivity.

(Author: Samreen Chhabra works as a Senior Research Fellow at Jindal Institute of Behavioural Sciences)