Do you recall how you felt when you were close to being burned out or actually were due to your job and the normal demands of life? The thing is, some of us come out unscathed from such experiences while others must deal with the effects of the burn out for a very long time. Nevertheless, the demands of life—whatever yours are—will not stop, and combining these demands with your everyday job can be daunting. After all, work is called work for a reason: it is a mental or physical pursuit to achieve set objectives. If we can achieve an equilibrium between the demands of our daily lives and our outlook on work, can we then say that we have achieved a work-life balance? Does work-life balance even exist? If the answer is in the affirmative, how can we achieve work-life balance without compromising one for the other?
This article contains some tips for attaining balance in your life and work, but what you must bear in mind is that you are the catalyst to achieving that sense of balance, and not achieving it could be devastating to the mind, the body, the work and familial connections. It may lead to increased stress levels, reduced productivity and consequently, conflict both at work and outside of work.
Have a Work Schedule
In our legal sphere, it is tough to completely shut down from work mentally, especially with the advent of the mobile phone which encourages us to keep working without even realizing it. However, mentally shutting down from work has helped me, and I believe it can also assist you achieve a balance with your work and other demands of life. As a rule, I have a strict work schedule which I adhere to except in rare circumstances. As a mom to two young girls with a busy private corporate practice, 24 hours in a day is hardly enough, as I am sure you can understand. Having a work schedule allows me to mentally disconnect from work, switch off, and fully channel that energy into other life tasks.
Take Your Annual Leave
Sometimes, the nature of your job may not be conducive to taking annual leave, perhaps because you dread the pile of work that will be sitting on your desk upon your return compared to if you had shelved the leave. Or you superiors may subtly discourage you from taking your annual leave. Usually, the number of years on the job determines the number of days of annual leave you may be entitled to. I have come to the realization that taking an annual leave allows me to decompress, re-evaluate my position in life, make future plans, undertake personal tasks that I have left undone for so long, take that trip, or spend quality time with family. Upon your return to work from your annual leave, you come back with a renewed drive and a sense of purpose. So, if you can, take that annual leave.
Demarcate Your Workspace
The COVID-19 pandemic has engineered three work modes: on-site, remote, and hybrid. If your work mode is remote or hybrid, it is imperative to demarcate your workspace from the rest of the home. For small spaces or combined spaces, there are screens sold in departmental stores that can be used to entirely demarcate workspaces for utmost privacy. For the most part, there is the temptation of getting distracted around the home during work hours. Do not fall for this because if you do, you may increase your stress levels, especially when work tasks are unnecessarily pending. The essence is to treat your workspace in your home just as you would treat an onsite workspace and after your scheduled work hours, you may choose to embrace selected distractions.
Take Time Off Work
I understand that one size does not fit all so if you are not inclined to any of the above, another way that may assist you in achieving work-life balance is setting down a day per week or every other week for everything aside from work. This may be in the form of having a four-day week or nine day bi-week work schedule. Consultants, legalpreneurs and legal soloists may be able to easily adapt to this work method compared to employees. Nonetheless, employees may be able negotiate a four-day work week at a reduced pay or four-day work week taking into consideration the hours of the fifth day. All of this may also depend on the workload, but the main thing is achieving a situation where you are able to function without compromising on any side, now or in the future.
Health is wealth, they say. I practice self-care through daily exercise, a good night's sleep, and sometimes meditation. This helps me achieve clarity and focus for longer hours during the day. I know work is stressful and it is hard enough getting out of bed in the morning, but practising self-care could start with a good night's sleep and getting a good night's sleep means having consistent hours of nightly shutdown which helps the brain regenerate. I am not an expert in neuroscience, but I am able to attest to the benefits of self-care and having a good night's sleep, which have helped me accomplish a sense of balance despite the demands of my daily life.
Work-Life Balance is Achievable
In essence, work-life balance exists, and you can achieve an equilibrium without compromising one for the other. The approach you choose to attain this equilibrium depends on how you want to achieve your work-life balance. Whenever you need help, do seek it out because help goes a long way without you realizing it. If you are not inclined towards light workout, you can delegate domestic chores at home. Also, you can work smart through contract or project-based work or by delegating to subordinates or working as part of a team. In the end, you will evolve into an efficient, high-flying, balanced person. It’s that simple.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ola Oshodi is a dual qualified internationally trained lawyer. She is the Principal Counsel of Ola Oshodi Law, a full service Corporate and International Commercial Law practice focusing on corporate governance, franchise law, corporate structuring, commercial contracts, and Private M&A.
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