Balancing work and life doesn't have to be a constant battle
RED: work, BLUE: life, BROWN: YOU.

“I have my notebook beside my bed so that I can jot down all the points when my boss calls me at midnight…” – me balancing work and life.

Choosing the best kind of job is perhaps one of the most challenging tasks facing the workforce in the 21st century. Many people have often found themselves in a dilemma between the monetary and non-monetary benefits of a job choice.

‘Lucrative salary packages and at the same time, work-life balance.’ That’s what most people are asking for. Who doesn’t want that, right? But most of the time, the bubble is popped.

Perhaps, consider how can we blend both our work and personal time successfully in order to achieve the kind of balance that we are looking for?

2 years into the pandemic, many have been through tough times in their professional endeavours as well as their personal lives. Working in the Corporate Training field, we came across hundreds of participants, if not thousands, sharing their bitter work-life experiences.

Some of the statements we heard were:

“I spent a minimum of 14 hours daily on my job!”,
“I’ve struggled with keeping a balance between my work and my family”,
I can’t take this job anymore, it’s just too much”,
“I need advice to achieve work-life balance”, etc.

So, how do people actually achieve work-life balance?

The truth is, most people don’t!

We often find ourselves burdened with feelings of guilt because we can’t be fully present without thinking about other concerns, whether personal or professional.

For instance, you are at a gathering and received a text from your colleagues. I’m pretty sure that you will fall into a stressful spiral trying to decide if you should or shouldn’t read the message. Oftentimes, we end up reading it and then complain about the work-related matters that we have to deal with even though we are off from working hours.

Most people agree that it’s important to strike a balance between personal and professional life, especially the Gen-Zs and Millennials who put more emphasis on this compared to any other generation.

But, the term “work-life balance” has come under fire in recent years. One of the issues is with the choice of the word “balance”. This has put unnecessary pressure on people to make their work and non-working hours perfectly equal.

Regardless of how you define it, you are probably struggling to achieve work-life balance if you are a busy professional, even if you are just an executive in the organisation. Striking the perfect balance is especially difficult today with the increase in expectations and results that we want to achieve. And with remote and hybrid work becoming the norm moving forward, it’s definitely harder to separate our work from our personal lives.

What if we DON’T separate them and rather INTEGRATE both? What if we adopted Work-Life Integration?

It’s all about blending both our personal and professional obligations, rather than drawing lines between work time and personal time. We should stop viewing work and personal time as black and white.

Identifying the areas of potential compromise allows us to lower our stress levels and be more at peace with ourselves as it provides more flexibility and fulfilment because we are able to comply with all our duties. i.e. leaving early and bringing work home so that you can spend your dinner time with your family instead of staying late at the office, or, working when you are at your most motivated instead of forcing your way to 6.00 pm.

Don’t be so overly caught up that work can only be done from a typical 8.30 am – 7.00 pm and the rest of the time is for personal interests. If you insist on a work-life balance, always understand that there’s a price to pay. It’s either you enjoy the moment now and go through a tougher transition later in your career, or vice versa.

My takeaways from conversations with leaders from various organisations have taught me that there are bigger goals to achieve than a work-life balance, especially at this point in time. It’s too early for the younger generation to settle down when we just stepped into the corporate world. In fact, this is the best time for us to gain corporate experience to build our foundation and competencies as future leaders.

So, is work-life balance your main priority now? Maybe yes, and maybe not. But one thing is for sure, you have bigger goals that you want to achieve in your life and career. One of the best things that you can start now is work-life integration!

Break the black and white boundaries of work-life balance, and embrace the fact that work IS part of life. We are better off integrating work into our lives along with all the other important parts like health, relationships, personal development and others rather than trying to split our existence into clearly defined chunks of time.

Life is not black and white. Life is colourful. Weave all aspects of ‘life’ together. Not differentiate.

Life is not black and white. Life is colourful.

‘Integrate’: make it a part of,

not ‘Balance’: which separates and divides.

For tools and tips to start work-life integration, D Jungle People’s Priority Manager Programme provides practical models and exercises to help you at any level of your career.