Work-life Balance: How to Work and Rest the Right Way

The concept of work-life balance emerged in the 1970s. It can be explained as achievements and pleasant moments in work, friendship, family, and self-development. If any of the spheres sags, the balance is disturbed. As a result, the quality of personal life and, paradoxically, work suffers. We have learned what work-life balance is, how it relates to workaholism, and how to find this balance.

Problems of Workaholism

The concept of “workaholism” appeared shortly before the concept of work-life balance in 1971 and has been refined many times since then. The American Psychological Association identifies three main symptoms of workaholism:

  • Feeling compelled to work.
  • Working beyond what is necessary to the detriment of other areas of life.
  • Constant thoughts of working in “free” time.

Workaholism isn’t the number of hours worked but an obsession, an inability to distract oneself from professional tasks. A workaholic works hard not because of low wages and the need to repay the loan but because he likes to receive bonuses and recognition from colleagues. However, it can be difficult to distinguish between workaholism and healthy involvement in work.

Researchers have created a list of questions that can be used to identify workaholism:

  • Are you constantly busy and in a hurry to get somewhere?
  • Do you strive to control everything that happens at work and get nervous when you don’t?
  • Do you strive to complete all tasks perfectly — no matter how long it takes?
  • Do you have a hard time building personal relationships?
  • When you start working, you can’t stop until you lose all your energy.
  • Do you find it hard to take your mind off your work even when you’re on vacation?
  • Do you sometimes not remember what you said or how you got to where you are because you are tired from work or thinking about work?
  • Are you often irritated by your work?
  • Do you often feel insufficiently competent or powerless to accomplish a work task?
  • Do you regularly refuse to eat or sleep to finish your work?

If most of the questions are answered affirmatively, there is a high probability that workaholism is taking place, and it’s worth considering your work-life balance.

Scientists have long attributed physical and mental health problems to the consequences of workaholism. There are also modern studies proving that work without rest is harmful to a person.

Work-life Balance: Causes and Consequences of Its Absence

With a balanced lifestyle, a person has time to work and rest. But many people have professional tasks that take up almost all of their time. There are many factors that lead to the development of workaholism and the “breakdown” of work-life balance.

  • Personal. People prone to perfectionism, focused on achievement and recognition of others, more often become workaholics.
  • Social. Upbringing and schooling style also influence the development of workaholism. For example, the desire to be an excellent student to be recognized is easily transferred into adulthood: a person seeks to prove his importance through career achievements. Another case of social pressure: the employer and colleagues believe that only bad employees leave work on time, and a person’s desire to be part of the team becomes the reason for delays and additional tasks.
  • Cultural. In many cultures, constant work is an important condition for living in society: people define themselves through work and follow set patterns of behavior. For example, French executives have been recognized as the world’s most ardent workaholics — they constantly worry about work and are willing to tackle tasks intensely, without interruption. However, according to the same study, remote managers work a little less than their office colleagues, which means that work tasks can still be slightly reduced.
  • Economic. Small salaries and lack of social guarantees lead to forced workaholism. Low security at work can also aggravate the situation: for example, when the boss, contrary to the law, demands to work overtime and without pay. It is unfair to call such people workaholics because, for them, the purpose of work isn’t the loyalty of management but the ability to survive and feed their families. But at the domestic level, they face the same problems as classic workaholics.

How to Build Boundaries Between Personal and Work Life

Building boundaries depends on the reasons why work-life balance is off. Someone who works two jobs and takes on extra projects needs to rethink the financial side of their life. The one who sits in the office late at night to avoid coming home and being involved in a scandal will have to deal with family relationships.

The universal rules of work-life balance are delineation and planning.

Define zones of work and rest. For example, at the desk — work, and on the couch — rest. Remove distracting objects from the desk and arrange everything so that it’s comfortable to work; when climbing on the couch, put aside your laptop and phone.

Set time limits. The easiest is to close all work chats at exactly 5 p.m. and don’t look at them until the next working day, letting yourself play blackjack online or just being with your family (only then it’s worth warning your colleagues and superiors about it).

Make a vacation plan. Let the to-do list for the day add reading a book and an evening jog to the quarterly report. This will help you transition smoothly to other tasks after work and avoid feeling empty. And it’s especially nice to cross items off the list before bed.

Turn off the internet/put your phone in airplane mode. The purpose of such a drastic step is to remove yourself from work tasks for the duration of your vacation. After all, sometimes colleagues can write or call even on the weekend. The most radical way is to stop appearing online, but this may be too difficult for anxious people. At first, it’s worth determining a time when you’ll look at messages and respond only to those that take no more than 5-10 minutes (and, again, such measures should be agreed upon with management and colleagues in advance).

Establishing a work-life balance will take time and effort. And it’s not easy, especially if workaholism is explained by objective factors. But the workload does lead to serious problems, and constant fatigue prevents you from achieving success, realizing your dreams, and simply enjoying life.



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I'm Jethro. I'm a carpenter, and love to build things! You can find me in the garage or at work most days of the week.My sister is Crystal, who you might know from this very blog. Her son Johnny loves video games just as much as I do - so we have a lot of fun playing together!

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