By Umer Raza
I was asked by a client to deliver a training program on Time Management and Stress for its management. The managers seemed under tremendous stress and it was jeopardizing their personal and professional lives and performance. They were having stress at office and carrying the same to their homes and the other way round was true as well.
When I researched on the topic of Time Management and stress, where I got a lot of material about these two topics I also got the work-life balance mantra. I call it a mantra because ever since I entered corporate life I encountered this word and listened to people cribbing to get some personal time and spend some time for the things they loved most. WORK LIFE Balance, all those who have been in to the corporate world must also be familiar with this term. They might have gone through a number of articles, research studies and may be tools as well to know and create the WORK LIFE balance.
When I was researching on the topic, I found number of themes, ideas and suggestions as to how a work life balance can be achieved. Every one is suggesting that we should have a fine work life balance. When I asked a participant during the training it confirmed the same understanding about work life balance. The participant said “ By work life balance we mean that when we spend time at work we need to spend some time in other areas and should not be too crazy or engrossed in work that our life suffer, hence we should balance our work and life routine”. This definition is true to many and most might confirm to this idea.
However, let us re-read the phrase “WORK-LIFE”. By definition and configuration of the phrase we understand that there are two things WORK and LIFE. We need to create a balance between both. If this is true what we actually do is that we are creating WORK and LIFE as two distinct identities. By this assumption we are not considering WORK as part of our life. If this is true, we are actually wasting one third of our life as the work we are doing is not part of our life and we are trying to strike a balance between both. My dear, we will never be able to do this. Unless we consider work as part of life and reframe our understating about work we will always be juggling between work and life.
What we need to do is to create harmony. We need to consider work as part of our lives and of course a very important part. Unfortunately, we have compartmentalized our work and life. We consider work as a burden, as a force levied, as a threatening regime, as a source of running our kitchen, as a source of earning the daily bread, monthly pay check, bonuses, and a source of getting the errands done. This thinking can hardly take us anywhere. This is the thinking that creates a stress and time management dilemma. With this thinking we crave for the time to spend on our hobbies. However, if work is considered as life, there will be no need for entertainment, socializing, family time or craving to follow hobbies, because work time in itself shall be fulfilling all the needs.
Let us change our internal paradigm for some time. Let us take our work as a hobby, as an entertainment, as socializing, as a stage where we could perform our best act. When we consider work as all these and our office as a place of enriching our lives we will never be craving for a WORK LIFE balance. This is only possible if we are working in trade that we love. It is hard for many to perceive the work as love, but mind you if you do not love the work you are doing, you are just wasting your time in the world. However, if you love the work you are doing you are fulfilling all your family, social, emotional, physical and spiritual needs.
At this a question arises as to how we can find the work we love. For the purpose of this article let me say that we can only define such a work that we love by saying that a work by doing which you lose the track of time is called the work that you love. If you cannot find such a thing that you love to the extent that you lose the track of time, then you must start loving the work that you already are doing. Because in simple terms there is no escape from the fact that until you are alive you have to work, the day you stopped working is the time you start dying. So isn’t it a wise choice to start loving your work and stop worrying about the work life balance, because work is life and life is work and there is no difference. Now you just need to Balance LIFE.