Work-life integration is no longer just about the hours we work, but also the flexibility of our professional and personal life. Having control over how we work, rather than simply reducing long working hours can give us a feeling of balance without necessarily cutting anything out.
Work-life integration is very much an individual consideration. It varies based on your role at work, the demands of home and the time you need for personal wellbeing. Regular reflection is required to avoid feeling overwhelmed and giving you the focus you need, at the right time.
In many roles there is great scope for flexibility, increasing your control over how you work. Why not consider some of the options below:
- Are you able to move your hours doing an early or a late start?
- Can you work from home to reduce your commuting time?
- What's the organisational culture like for you? And, just as importantly, what kind of culture are you creating for those who work for you?
- Consider using technology - could you do more video or voice calls?
- How could you use your commute better? To relax, refresh or complete a task?
- Can you communicate your boundaries (e.g. I don't pick up emails after 8pm) more clearly so others know what to expect of you?
The more in control you feel of the way in which you work, the more productive you'll be. If there's scope to be more flexible at work and integrate your work and life more effectively, then grab it with both hands - it can be a huge step in giving you the time to enjoy life and replenish your energy by focusing on your own wellbeing.
Setting boundaries that work for you is vital to feel happy with your work-life integration. Grab a pen and a piece of paper and write down 3 boundaries which are important to you. For example 'I'll check email in the evening on Monday to Thursday but not after 5pm on a Friday' or 'I want to pick up my children from school 3 days per week.'
Keeping a log of how many days or weeks you stick to your boundaries will help you monitor if these boundaries are working for you - reflect and consider if they're realistic - ask yourself what can I change?
It can feel great working flexibly and integrating work and life, but it can also be hard to keep control of your focus. To help you switch roles, develop your own switching rituals, for example changing clothes, or even just taking a deep breath.
Try to become aware of your own energy levels. It's likely that in a day you can only do 2 or 3 high energy activities - what should these be? Sometimes it might be a work project, at others it might be something you need to do at home. Start each day by planning to use your energy wisely rather than letting it all go to someone else's demands.
It's all too easy to procrastinate if we don't want to do something, if our energy has dropped or we are worried about the task ahead. What do you do to procrastinate?
How can you beat that habit?
Ultimately, work-life integration is about making the choice between the demands of others and your own wellbeing. It's your choice what time you leave work. Perhaps by leaving work late, you'll be more likely to gain recognition at work. Conversely, by leaving early you could make those at home happier.
The key is to be understood, and to take responsibility of these consequences.
Do you want to take control of your work-life integration?
If so, take a few minutes to step back and consider how your work and life are integrated. CABA can also help.
- We offer life coaching to help you reflect on your work-life integration and take small steps to reclaim control and focus in your life
- Our free work-life integration course can help you take back control of your time
What could you do today to take back control of your time and energy?