Find it hard to juggle your heavy workload, household and family responsibilities as well as squeezing in some personal time? You are not alone. The Malaysia’s Healthiest Workplace Survey by AIA Vitality, last year, revealed that Malaysians on average work 15 hours more than their contracted hours each week. It also highlighted that the traditional workplace culture practiced in Malaysia is one of the main reasons why we can’t achieve work life balance.
By definition, work-life balance is a corporate concept that supports the effort of employees to split their time and energy between work and other important aspects of their life. Focusing on one and not the other can adversely affect our overall well-being, both physically and mentally. However, having an unrealistic understanding of work-life balance can also be quite damaging.
"The Malaysia’s Healthiest Workplace Survey by AIA Vitality 2017 revealed that Malaysians on average work 15 hours more than their contracted hours each week."
Busting the myths
Myth #1: I Will Be Happier with Lesser Working Hours
While working long hours can kill productivity, working fewer hours can actually cause higher levels of anxiety. Fewer working hours does not mean a lesser workload, it means managing the same amount of workload in a shorter time. This can be even more stressful than following a normal work schedule as you need to finish your work in a shorter amount of time.
Myth #2: The Perfect Work-Life Balance Means a 50/50 Split
It is important to understand that a perfect work-life balance does not exist. Spending an equal amount of time at work and at home or on other personal activities is rarely ever possible. So, do not strive for the perfect schedule; strive for a realistic one.
See also: 7 Ways Vacations Help You Stay Healthy
Myth #3: What Works for Me, Works for Everyone Else
In any work environment, every employee has their own individual capacity and pace in performing their tasks. It is not necessary that if you are able to finish your work at a given time, your fellow colleagues would be able to do the same too. It also depends on individual goals. For instance, an employee who is aggressively striving for the next big promotion is likely to put in more hours of work than an employee who is happy in his current position.
Myth #4: The Bosses Have It Balanced & Easy
No matter how high up the corporate ladder you go, the challenge of managing work and life’s demands is always there. Getting promoted to the coveted corner office will not automatically solve all your problems or give you the perfect work-life balance. In fact, it might get more challenging.
Myth #5: I’m The Only One Who Feels Unbalanced
The truth is every working individual is struggling to find the right balance. Having a perfectly balanced work and home life is a complex process that actually never ends. Whether you work in an office or freelance, the challenge of balancing work and life demands is always there.
"Having a perfectly balanced work and home life is a complex process that actually never ends."
Balancing for the better
While work might be demanding at times, it should never become a priority over your wellbeing. You need time and energy for your hobbies and interests, for your family and loved ones. Though the perfect balance is unachievable, here are some ways to improve your work-life balance.
Eliminate Distractions at Work
In today’s digital world, we are surrounded by constant distractions. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine found that it takes a typical office worker 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption. Hence, it’s important to make a conscious effort to limit your time on the web, social media sites, personal tasks, and gossiping with colleagues in order to increase your focus and work productivity. By finishing work on time without distractions, you will allow yourself more time to focus on other things.
Don’t Be Afraid of Me-Time
While your job is important, it should not be your entire life. Create a schedule to help you allocate time for your work and time for other important things in your life. Whether you exercise, meditate, join a dance or art class, take a walk in the park, or get a massage it is important to always set aside a few hours a week to do something for yourself.
"Create a schedule to help you allocate time for your work and time for other important things in your life."
Let Go of Perfectionism
As you climb up the ladder at work and as your family grows, your responsibilities mushroom. You may want all aspects of your life to be perfect, but, perfectionism as a habit can prove to be stressful and unnecessarily demanding. In fact, nothing in life is perfect, including work. Hence, the key to avoid burning out is to let go of perfectionism and to accept things that are within your own capacity.
All in all, the key to managing work and life lies in that one magic word: balance. Not only is achieving a healthy work-life balance an attainable goal but both workers and businesses alike will reap the rewards. When workers are balanced and happy, they are more productive, take fewer sick days, and are more likely to stay in their jobs, which in turn greatly benefits the company as well.
The above articles are intended for informational purposes only. AIA accepts no responsibility for loss, which may arise from reliance on information contained in the articles.