Work-Life Balance in the Digital Age: Can We Achieve it?
Tired, stressed, hopeless. Answering emails over lunchtime, rushing to pick up kids at school, taking in extra work on the weekends. How are we doing with work-life balance in the last few years?
I do ask myself this question every so often as most of my clients and, in fact, friends, too, do not feel routinely relaxed as if they were on a joyful ride of work-life balance.
Our digital age is not an easy one to ride. For an interesting take on the impact that the digital era has on our social, psychological and economical life, I recommend Yuval Noah Harari’s books:
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
- Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
- 21 Lessons For The 21st Century
Digital age promises of work-life balance
You may have come across those YouTube videos of some dudes that make a living by writing a Blog or Video-Casting on topics such as online marketing while sitting in their surfer outfit somewhere in Bali.
In fact, I have written many of my online blog posts while writing on a sunny balcony in Barcelona or having a coffee at the beach. When you are self-employed it’s more likely that you are in charge of some of your daily rhythms.
These examples, when seen isolated, give out the impression that work-life integration would be achievable for all, once they have a computer and wi-fi connection. It seems that technology is all we’d ever need to achieve work-life balance.
“You know what drives me crazy? It’s all these people talking about how great technology is, and how it saves all this time. But, what good is saved time, if nobody uses it? If it just turns into more busy work. You never hear somebody say, “With the time I’ve saved by using my word processor, I’m gonna go to a Zen monastery and hang out”. I mean, you never hear that”
Jesse, Before Sunrise
The reality is, however, that technology on its own won’t solve our problems of balancing time, work, chores, meeting with friends and taking on hobbies. Most of us commute, travel or have to look after children and aging parents. We have teams spread on different time zones, from USA to Australia. All this increases the constant stress and strain on personal time.
So, what do you do? That’s just life, right?
I truly believe that some of our stress is self-imposed.
With so much competing for our attention and care throughout the day, we need to self-regulate and discover where to focus and spend energy.
This is the first crucial step in finding work-life balance. Balance starts within us. So, first, stop and think:
- What do you consider important in your life right now?
- What are your must-do tasks in a day, a week or a month?
I think we all have a series of crucial tasks that most likely will, once completed within a mid-term period, lead us to a bigger goal of ours – like going to the gym (if you manage to do so). In the long run, going to the gym on a regular basis is an investment in a healthy body, hence functioning mind.
But what about other innumerable tasks like keeping your Facebook/ Instagram profile updated? Being available 24/7 on WhatsApp or Telegram? Checking your email at night or during the weekend?
Are these important as well? Will they help you achieve your goals? If yes, how often would you need to devote attention to them? And how do you decide when to actually have some time off?
In order to make a concrete decision that will benefit the bigger picture, the collective goal of the team, and positively impact the organization, we need to understand a little bit on what basis the decision-making process happens. Furthermore, we need some tools to align with a common objective.
“Our fear of consequences is always worse than the consequences themselves”
As most of us knows, stress management depends on how we manage our physical and psychological energy. Of course, those two are highly interconnected, which add to the daily maintenance and hygiene of wellbeing.
“negative emotions are a call to action. When you feel them, it’s because you’re supposed to do something. Positive emotions, on the other hand, are rewards for taking the proper action”
Regulating our use of technology
I also believe that part of our responsibility in finding work-life balance resides on regulating our use of technology. Here are a few recommendations I suggest you read to take action on:
- Saying NO (and setting boundaries)
- Using your mobile in healthier ways
- Adjusting your tasks to your time availability
In this month’s worksheet, you will find some simple actions and ideas that will help you step towards your own rhythm and work-life balance so that you will be able to enjoy the small things in life that we all desire. Don’t lay this one off. Put yourself first!
To help you navigate through the challenges you may face at work in your leadership role, we create monthly worksheets with simple, yet hands-on 5-min and 10-min activities. Simple exercises help you get on track and stay focused at work. Take a sneak peek below.
We offer these worksheets for free!
Check our full library of practical worksheets here. In our section on Motivation, you can download this month’s Stepping into Balance, with activities to implement right away and practice every day. Browse the library to find extra exercises to improve motivation, lower stress, and increase productivity.
**Quick peek into our WORKSHEET**
_For you, if…
- You feel that you suffer from stress & anxiety
- You want to find ways to put yourself first
- You want to go back to enjoying life
A) Some Basic Emergency Lines
In case of emergency, when in a flight, you are encouraged to put on your own oxygen mask first. As the theory goes, you can’t help anyone else if you are starved of oxygen (or sleep! or highly stressed!). So, let’s start by putting you first!
1. Manage your Screen Time
Whatever smartphone or tablets you use frequently, download any app that will help you manage your own screen time. For example, I won’t receive any messages from 22h-7h. This allows me to not be distracted and be with friends, read a book or simply sleep.
Most of the western world suffers from sleep deprivation. It’s one of the main causes of stress and low productivity. In fact, some of the pioneering companies ask their staff to live as close as they can to work in order to reduce the tiring time of daily commuting. Maybe your organization doesn’t pay a bonus for this kind of thing yet, so take it into your own hand. Manage your working hours well, and go to bed!
3. Be loved: Make time to see people you care about
_Take it further!
…take it further and deepen the learning by doing all the exercises suggested on our worksheet. Sign up below with your name and email to download the complete worksheet.
Always keen to know how you are getting on!
Executive Coach. Consultant. Trainer. Facilitator.
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