Work life balance is plainly defined as “ the balance that an individual needs between time allocated for work and other aspects of life.” It is the time that we require to unplug, de-stress and actually absorb everything we’ve done, said and learned in a day. Ah, what an idealized concept. Sure – some weeks are better than others, but as a young professional eager to climb the ladder – work life balance isn’t really a thing.
We have technology to thank for that. I mean think about it – can you imagine a time when social media/digital technology wasn’t engrained in your day-to-day life? From perfecting your “about me” on MySpace, to telling your Amazon Alexa to order Chipotle – we’re a very digital and socially-driven generation. We always have been. That’s what makes our work ethic so unique and, sometimes, intense. Our smart phones, smart speakers, smart watches, smart *anything* keep us constantly tuned in. We don’t know any other way. There are a ton of benefits to this, obviously. We receive information faster. Bridge the gaps of geography with ease. We even connect more deeply with ourselves and our bodies (seriously – what did we do before we knew exactly how many steps we took in a day?). We’ve become inherently smarter and more aware as a result of the technological boom. But all of these innovations can be extremely detrimental to our physical health and mental wellbeing if we don’t take five (hours, not minutes) once in a while. Let’s explore why work life balance is so important.
It’s Actually Better For Your Work
This might sound counterproductive, but stepping away from your work can actually help improve it. We’re all guilty of this – we have the pressure of deadlines, superiors and opportunities to prove our worth. They make us go crazy. When you spend so much time moving a million a minute and thinking about the same thing for an extended period of time, you develop tunnel vision. You know that thought you have when you spend so long on something and you’re like “is this even good?” and your next thought is – “who knows!? I’m no longer a reliable source for my own work! Ha!” Putting in the hours is great, but without some type of grip on moderation or balance – you can actually produce pretty mediocre work without even really recognising it. It’s important to give yourself a chance to digest and improve your thinking process. That means turning off your Apple Watch alerts and taking a walk, reading a book, cuddling with your dog, indulging in a fresh pint of Halo Top – whatever works for you. Whoever said “treat yoself” was really on to something.
You Can Burn Yourself Out
When you’re first starting out in your professional career, you’re HUNGRY. You can’t wait to prove yourself, learn new things and of course – get your first adult paycheck. It’s all about busting out the grunt work and figuring out your strengths, opportunities and limitations. Maybe it’s speaking up in a really big meeting, or stepping up to take on a new project. Even if you barely have time to, like, sleep at night. Either way, if you’re in a field you’re passionate about, there’s probably a very small limit to how hard you’ll push yourself. But it’s important to note – you CANNOT go on this way forever.
Eventually, all of that motivation, want, passion and desire will turn into bitterness. You’ll find yourself overworked, exhausted, and probably underpaid. Everything you were once grateful for (like feedback and strategic guidance) will start to annoy you. You’ll start to focus on the tasks in front of you rather than the bigger picture (like where your career is going and what you’re REALLY getting out of your current position). It’s important to give yourself the time you need to appreciate your talent, potential and performance. Sometimes – that doesn’t mean pushing yourself harder – it means rewarding how hard you’ve pushed yourself. So go ahead, have a bottle of wine and binge-watch Stranger Things on a Tuesday night – you deserve it.
It’s Important To Make Time For The Little Things
As important as success, status and of course – income is, a lack of work life balance can truly throw your perspective out of whack. Maybe you start to ignore your parents’ calls, or skip out on more than one happy hour – probably doesn’t seem like a big deal at first. I mean everyone should understand, right? You’re trying to make a name for yourself and that takes sacrifice. That is only true to an extent. Over time, that type of behavior because the normal. It becomes a habit.
Don’t forget the important things – like a FaceTime call with your grandma (even if you have to call her and remind her how to FaceTime you), or the healing properties that lie within a good beer with good friends. You’ll probably find that the fulfillment and happiness that comes from “the little things” will always surpass that of climbing the professional latter.