Work-life balance is about finding the right balance between work and living life. The end goal is usually to provide employees with a conducive working environment that will aid in their evolution to become better employees who are more productive, thoughtful and less stressed.
In Singapore, however, work-life balance remains an elusive buzzword for many. Workers here have been ingrained with the notion that people are the country's only resource, and Singaporean businesses have to maximise its "resources" or lose its competitive edge.
This may be why employees here work some of the longest hours in the world. According to a study, Singapore is now the fourth most overworked city in the world, behind only Dubai, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur1.
There is hope however, we are still at the beginning of the year and by making these six resolutions, you may be a step closer to achieving the work-life balance you crave.
1. Create a detailed plan for yourself to achieve the work-life balance you desire
With all the things going on in your life, it is easy to create resolutions that are too broad. If your list contains inputs that are too general such as "Spend more quality time with my family" or "Exercise more this year", chances are, you will not achieve it at.
More thought and planning needs to go into the inputs on your list. If your aim is to spend more time with your family, you could plan for a family trip. You should involve the whole family early on to decide on the destination, the travel dates and the activities to do there.
If you are travelling with older children or your parents, you can assign duties to each person to make the holiday more inclusive and less taxing for any one person.
2. Communicate with your family members and friends
Life can be hectic and even overwhelming at times. You need to be able to tell your family and friends about it to get them to understand your actions and make it easier to conscript them for help.
This will help them to be more understanding when you have to miss out on gatherings and allow much more leeway in asking them for help during certain periods when you may be busier. At the same time, you should also be open to lending help when your spouse or other family members need it. Overall, it will open communication channels and forge stronger bonds between you and your family members and friends.
3. Empowering the people around you at work
You should not be a do-it-all. This will only lead you down a frenzied and stressful lifestyle.
Similar to drafting in family members to plan for a holiday or to communicate times when you will be extremely busy, you should also do this with your colleagues, managers and subordinates.
By not communicating with your co-workers, you are inhibiting their ability to help you. By speaking to your manager, you will gain useful insights into completing your work more efficiently and effectively.
In the same token, you should empower subordinates at work to make good decisions and present solutions to you rather than heavily involving you in the process. This will lighten your workload, enable you to focus on the most important tasks and, best of all, upskill your subordinates.
4. Saying "no"
Many people just cannot help saying "Yes". In either your job or life, it is challenging to reject work from your boss or colleagues or let down a family member or friend who is asking for help.
Contrary to what you may perceive as being more effective or productive, you will actually be sabotaging your long-term happiness as you bottle up what you really feel – being overwhelmed with the expectations and tasks on hand.
This is how many employees become resentful of their jobs or let unhappiness fester in their personal relationships. In effect, by saying "Yes", you are actually going to do more harm in the long-run.
5. Work-life balance is also about your interests, passion, friends, community and yourself
One thing we often do not realise is that work-life balance goes beyond spending equal and quality time at work and with loved ones. Work-life balance is also about everything else that is important to you.
We often forget this because of the guilt we face each day – we feel guilty that we are not spending enough time with our family as we work long hours in the office. Ironically, when we are with our family, we start feeling pangs of guilt over not finishing up our work.
To truly achieve work-life balance, and as a result happiness and fulfilment, you have to cater some time to pursue goals or activities that are important to you.
If you are committed to give back to society, you can volunteer your time or even use your skills to lend your expertise to the less privileged. If you would like to lead a healthier lifestyle, the AIA Vitality programme can be a great source of motivation for you to get started on making small steps toward your health goals and rewards you as you walk more, make healthier eating decisions and cut down on unhealthy habits.
6. Finding work-life balance is a process
Finally, you need to understand that there is no perfect balance of work and life. There will be some periods of high intensity where you find yourself working too much. Do not let this bog you down, you can always recalibrate your work-life balance the following week or when things are less hectic.
The journey toward achieving work-life balance will also take you through the process of creating quality two-way conversations with your family, friends and colleagues which will improve your relationships.
At the same time, you will also be building yourself as a person by pursuing unique interests and enriching your lives doing the things that make you feel most alive.