It’s the first week of the new year and the perfect time to set intentions for a healthy and integrated work-life. As a business owner, entrepreneur, employee or manager/leader (they are not the same but it is not the place to argue on the differences), it can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and grind, sacrificing your well-being for the success of your business/work. But research in the field of business psychology shows that a healthy work-life integration is not only essential for personal satisfaction, but it can also lead to increased productivity and success in the workplace.
One study conducted by the University of Toronto found that employees who experienced high levels of work-life conflict were more likely to report health problems and job dissatisfaction, leading to decreased productivity and increased absenteeism. On the other hand, those who reported a good work-life integration (erroneously referred as balance by those who think that work and life stand opposite to each other) had higher job satisfaction and were more likely to stay with their employer.
But achieving a healthy work-life integration is easier said than done, especially in today’s always-on culture. So how can you make the shift from burnout to bliss in the new year? Here are some tips based on the latest research in business psychology (quick list for the impatient ones 🙂 among us):
- Set boundaries and stick to them.
- Set clear priorities and accept that priorities change.
- Delegate and outsource tasks.
- Make time for hobbies and personal interests.
Now, real useful information for those who want to make real change 🙂
Set boundaries and stick to them
One of the most effective ways to improve your work-life integration is to set clear boundaries between your personal and professional time. This might mean setting specific times for checking emails, turning off your work phone after a certain hour, or designating certain days/time slots for work and others for other important things in life like play, rest and relaxation.
When I was doing a lot of coaching, I had a client who was a high-level executive at a large corporation. He was constantly checking his emails and taking calls – even outside of business hours, causing him to feel overwhelmed and stressed. We worked together to set boundaries for different tasks, such as only checking emails during certain hours and setting aside dedicated time for other important tasks – scheduling not only work but also rest. By sticking to this integrated schedule, he was able to better integrate his work and personal life and reported feeling less stressed and more productive.
Set clear priorities and accept that priorities change
Taking care of yourself other important aspects of life is not equal to wasting time, it’s a necessity. Just sitting quiet and doing nothing is not time wasted but time invested. And when it comes to work-life integration, prioritizing important things is crucial for maintaining your physical and mental health. This might include activities such as exercise, calling friends, spending time with kids, reading books, sitting and doing nothing, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and taking breaks to relax and recharge.
Another client who was a successful business owner but was constantly working long hours and sacrificing her self in the process. She had this belief that being a woman she needs to do extra to prove herself in the world dominated by men. She was exhausted and burnt out, leading to decreased productivity and decreased enjoyment of her work. We worked together to incorporate self-care practices into her daily routine, such as setting aside time for exercise and meditation, and making sure to get enough sleep. At the same time, we worked on examining this belief of men dominated world and what this belief is doing to her. By prioritizing important things in life, she started worrying less about her need to prove to the world and focusing more on expressing her total and real self to the friends, family and professional circle. This year, she wrote me an amazing letter 🙂
Delegate and outsource tasks
As a business manager/leader or entrepreneur, it can be tempting to try and do everything yourself to save time otherwise spent on explaining and monitoring people. Also, the philosophy of lead by example sometimes does more harm than good if applied at wrong place/time. Taking on too much can lead to burnout and decreased productivity. Instead, consider delegating tasks to team members or outsourcing to freelancers or contractors. Not only will this free up your time and energy, but it can also lead to increased efficiency and productivity.
I had a client who was a solopreneur and was struggling to integrate her life due to this constant habit of doing everything by herself. She was trying to do everything herself and was feeling overwhelmed. We identified tasks that she could delegate or outsource, worked on her fears of delegation. By offloading some of these tasks that could be safely delegated, she was able to improve her work-life integration and focus on the most important aspects of growing herself while growing the business.
Your business should be an expression of your self.
Make time for hobbies and personal interests.
Over focus on anyone aspect of life leads to development of one-sided personality that, despite being highly efficient, is not only dangerous for the world, but also for self.
Incorporating activities and hobbies outside of work can provide a much-needed prevention from the development of one-sided personality and can also lead to increased creativity and productivity at work. Whether it’s taking a yoga class, going for a hike, or reading a good book, making time for personal interests can help you recharge and come back to work with a fresh perspective.
I had a client who was a high-stress job in a corporate setting and was feeling burnt out. She was highly efficient executive and admired by all. She came to me to discover the constant feeling on void and not being understood that she was feeling since last many months. In the sessions, it started to dawn on her that she has been living a one-sided life and incorporating something that will provide as opening to her non-dominant psychological functioning can be a way to achieve better integration. She loved gardening (high on sensing activity) but had not made time for it in years. We worked together to incorporate gardening into her weekly routine as a way to relax and recharge. Not only did she enjoy the hobby, but she also found that it helped her be more focused and productive at work.
I hope reading this was a good use of your time and by setting boundaries, prioritizing important things, delegating and outsourcing tasks, and making time for hobbies and personal interests, you can shift from burnout to bliss in the new year. Do let me know your thoughts on this here or on my linkedin post here.