THOUGHT LEADERS

The fine art of living a balanced life

Finding a work-life balance, if there is such a thing, can be difficult in a digital age where technology makes work accessible around the clock. Throw in a job that you love, and it might feel like you never work a day in your life or work never leaves you, right?  

 Not quite. Experts seem to agree that the accumulating stress of a never-ending workday can hurt your relationships, health and overall happiness.  

What is a work-life balance? 

A work-life balance means something different to every individual, but research by the South African Journal of Industrial Psychology has shown that work and home are the two most significant domains in the life of an employed individual. The need to move between these two domains is something everyone across the board can identify with to some extent.  

Cathie Webb, director of the South African Payroll Association, previously said that people often think about work and life as if one can interchange the other without any trouble. “I do not think that is as achievable as we would like it to be,” she says. In a world where the lines between work and life are becoming blurrier, it’s getting harder for people to balance their time and distinguish between work and rest.  

Why it’s necessary to split time between work and life?  

No other addiction is so willingly adopted, rewarded and praised by society as the addiction to work, but workaholism is a big problem according to the South African Addiction Action Campaign (ACC). “Workaholism is an addictive pattern like any other addiction. Some people get an adrenaline high from juggling four or five commitments (…) or simply from being busy,” says the ACC. 

In Japan, the work culture is so intense that people invented a word karōshimeaning death from overwork. The death of Japanese journalist Miwa Sado in 2013 gained a lot of attention in this regard after she reportedly logged 159 hours of overtime in one month, before dying of heart failure.  

The catalyst for working excessively hard can sometimes be external pressures like unrealistic expectations from employers, but it can also be an internal ambition for perfection. “The key to avoid burning out is to let go of perfectionism,” says executive coach Dr. Marilyn Puder-York, who wrote The Office Survival Guide. She previously told Forbes that when perfectionism becomes out of reach, and if that habit is left unchecked, it can become destructive.  She adds that the healthier option is to strive not for perfection, but for excellence. 

How to find a work-life balance? 

There are countless lists and tips on how to find a balance between work and life but at the essence of them all lies time:  Make time, use time, create time, manage time and enjoy time! 

Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project and author of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Workingmaintains, “Human beings perform best and are most productive when they alternate between periods of intense focus and intermittent renewal.”  

Understanding where your time is going is the first step to work-life balance, Jory MacKay writes in the RescueTime blog. Limit time-wasting activities and relationships and focus on the things that truly add value to your life. Set aside an hour every day for yourself and respect that time as much as you would respect your manager’s time.  

This post is sponsored by Volkswagen Touareg and produced by BrandStudio24.