Why and How to Maintain a Work-Life Balance

In a busy metropolis like Singapore, many are found hustling and bustling around the city in order to get the gazillion things on their to-do lists done. Often, there is failure in creating a distinction between private and professional lives. We take work calls on the dinner table with family, or continue to send out quick e-mails on a walk in the park. The line that is drawn between work and home pushes further and further into your personal life, until there is little time left for you as an individual.

Both personal and professional lives are important in their own sense, and it’s important to assign time for both so that you don’t impeach the quality of either. Having a work-life balance is about successfully separating both aspects without encroaching upon the other. Why, you may ask, is there a need to maintain this balance?

Studies show that the lack of a work-life balance could lead to or exacerbate mental health illnesses, from stress-related issues to anxiety and depression. The most common would be burnout (alternatively, “chronic stress”) and it can caused from various workplace factors, such as outrageous workloads and/or not feeling valued enough at your workplace. If this sounds like you, or something you might be going through, it might be time to step back and take a break. The lack of a break could also lead to physical health problems: whereby too little time is spent on preparing good, healthy meals or exercising, which gives way to issues like high blood pressure.

Although, there are other reasons besides health ones which should persuade you to keep a good work-life balance: staying away from work keeps you more productive. Instead of working ruthlessly day-in and day-out, designating time and sticking to it keeps you more productive. That’s because you know you don’t have the full, complete day to finish your work, so it would heighten your productivity during the time that you do. On top of that, the reward of a relaxing or fun activity after work would encourage you to finish your work on time (or as much as you can, at least) before you head out so you can truly enjoy your off-time.

How do you start to build up a work-life balance, then? Especially as a working woman who may have countless other commitments to attend to.

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1. Delegate, delegate, delegate!

If you’re choosing to do everything yourself, your body and mind are going to wear out soon. You’re setting yourself up for not only physical fatigue, but also a possible mental breakdown in the future. Don’t just delegate at work, do it at home too. Decide what has to essentially be done by you, and what are the tasks that can be done by others. Don’t be afraid or hesitant to ask from help from coworkers, spouses or family members. And yes, sometimes there’s the feeling of, “But I can do it best.” Let go of the perfectionism and let fellow family members or workers take reign. They may not do it exactly how you want it to be done, but given time, they will get better at it.

2. Limit Distractions

As a working woman, time is precious commodity. Workers lose any duration from one to three hours if they’re distracted during work. To be focused while working, keep coworkers, casual internet surfing, and smartphones at bay. You can always hang out with your fellow workers after work, and scroll through your Facebook feed on the way home! Additionally, if you find yourself having to work at home, set specific time limits to attend to emails and calls if need be.

3. Create a Distinct Line between Home and Work

It’s very important to be able to refuse the things that don’t align with your priorities; it can be difficult at first but you’re bound to get the hang of it after some time. Be conscientious in setting boundaries so that you can give your most at both work and to yourself and your family at home. Don’t tap into emails and work when you’re with your kids, but don’t go send invites to a house- gathering during work, either. In this era of the gig economy, with entrepreneurs and freelancers, this can get very tricky. Because your home is your workplace, the lack of a physical distinction can make it difficult to create a hypothetical distinction between work and personal time. It’s in times like these that set time limits and careful consideration of one’s priorities comes into play. If it’s time to play, then stop working and go watch your favourite show on Netflix, or go for a walk, or whatever suits your fancy. Alternatively, if it’s time to get work done, don’t stay hogging on the couch. Balance of both is the key.

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I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of work too, and I often have to step back and remind myself that there isn’t a point in stressing out so much so that I can’t enjoy life: we all only get one after all. The worst case ever would be looking back after a few years and realising you missed out on things. So, take it easy; work hard and play hard and enjoy the hardest.