By Bhavna Sultana:
Most of us are victims of this infinite loop. Long commutes, extensive working hours, traffic jams; they all take a heavy toll on our health and also affect our level of happiness. Many experts will tell you that there’s a way out, that work-life balance is not really a myth. But, is it?
Deep down in our hearts we are all guilty of ignoring our personal relationships for the sake of fulfilling our work-related goals. Work is worship. But if you’re overdoing it to the point that you forget about your personal life, then it is a huge mistake.
I’ve come across many articles that point out the dark side of intense work culture. Most people overshoot their working hours, ignore their personal lives, health and even compromise on their safety. We exceed our limits despite knowing that it won’t bring us anything good. Many people are not even appreciated for the work they put in. In many instances, one doesn’t get good appraisals, salary hikes, but they keep on working. We are very much aware that what we do is not right, but we do it anyway.
What can be done? There are a few countries that have very flexible work laws. Sweden has recently trimmed down its working hours to 6 a day. The same level of productivity that was earlier achieved in 9 hours can be achieved in this time. The German labour ministry has banned out-of-hours working, which means one is not under any obligation to receive work-related calls after their normal shifts are over, except in the case of emergencies. I believe that this is a brilliant move.
If, however, big changes cannot be brought and the scenario remains the same, one can deal with such issues on a personal level. Here are a few tricks:
1) Utilize the long commutes
Long commutes result in a waste of time. If you travel by bus, metro or cab, you can utilise that time by listening to good music, watching educational videos, or you can even write. Nowadays one doesn’t even need a pen and paper, Google Keep or Notes will suffice for writing. You can also read.
A desk job and daily commute takes a very bad toll on your overall health. Taking my own case, I started to feel pain in my back and legs mainly because of a daily four-hour commute. So, I joined a sports club nearby and started walking. It helped keep my creative juice flowing.
3) Try to avoid working on weekends/overshooting work hours
As much as possible, try to finish your work in the shift timings you have. Also, keep your weekends free, it is very important to recharge your batteries, otherwise your thinking capacity also drops down. If your shift doesn’t suit you, try negotiating with your seniors and if possible, take another shift if it helps you avoid long traffic jams.
4) Inculcate a hobby
We all let go of our hobbies because of a hectic lifestyle. I would suggest that you don’t do it. Find time for your hobbies. They will be the best companions throughout your life.
5) Spend more time with your family
We all know we’ve ignored them long enough. It reduces happiness, creates tensions in the relationship. Spend more time with them. Catch up with your old friends. Just don’t be too busy.
If all of this works out for you, then maybe work-life balance can still be achieved. As once quoted in Star Wars, “Be mindful of the future but not at the expense of the moment”.