02 Oct 5 Ways African Executives Can Create A Sustainable Work Life Balance
We live in a time where success is measured by the amount of wealth we can gather; how many hours we can put in at work so we can earn the most.
So much so that so many of us focus too much on earning more, doing more, putting in more work hours so we can be seen as successful.
So much, we do not invest in personal wellbeing.
This situation has been made worse by the growth in digital technology, and work-from-home practices that are slowly obliterating the fine line between work hours and personal time.
In the past, working means you needed to physically be at work and going home meant the day’s tasks were done or postponed to the next day.
Today, with a good data connection and a personal computer or smartphone, work never really stops.
In the same vein, some people find so much fulfilment in pursuing short term happiness in small life moments that they stay fixated on building a personal life and forget to build a professional life.
However, it has become very clear that money is not a true measure of success and having the highest number of “me time” does not equal a happy life.
A happy life is most likely to be achieved when you can strike a balance between your work and personal life, and sustain it.
A healthy work-life balance is a state of stability where you equally prioritize the demands between your career and the demands of your personal life.
Mentor Africa Foundation is dedicated to helping you find this balance and we’ve made a list of 5 key strategies to create a sustainable work-life balance.
5 Key Strategies You Can Use To Create a Sustainable Work-Life Balance
1. Make Peace with The Fact That a Perfect Work-life Balance Does Not Exist
When people think ‘work-life balance,’ they envision this perfect land of unicorns, rainbows and a balanced tipping scale of Zen.
They imagine clocking in at just the right time, putting in the specific work hours stipulated on their employment contract, complete all tasks for the workweek within that time and have enough time to get back home to snuggle up with a cup of warm cocoa with loved ones, or whatever is your me-time activity of choice.
In reality? This perfect schedule is simply not achievable. Accept that in reality, life happens and there are a healthy number of work and life situations that are simply beyond your control.
What you should strive for is a real work-life balance, not just one that would be possible in an ideal universe.
On some days you may need to spend more time working, attending to emails, speaking with your mentees, etc., while on other days you can get more time to kick your feet up or catch up with loved ones.
Balance is built over time when you can understand this and learn to do the next item on our list; prioritise!
2. Know Your Priorities
Prioritizing is one of the most important productivity practices for achieving and sustaining a great work-life balance.
Prioritizing is the process of determining what is most important and should be given credence over others.
As you move towards striking a work-life balance, you need to take out time to determine what is most important to you. This includes career and personal milestones, work-life and home life duties and your health.
You need to identify exactly how your time is being utilized; what you’re doing too much of, what you’re doing too little of, what you need to be doing and what you need to not be doing, and finally how best to split your time between these activities.
A priority should also be placed on your overall physical and mental wellbeing.
Frankly, this should be your main priority. The first thing to suffer from an unhealthy work-life balance is your health.
From nagging headaches, stress, chronic illnesses to anxiety, exhaustion and mental disorders.
Prioritizing your health will make you an overall better employee, friend and partner.
3. Have a Schedule and Stick to It
One key differentiating factor between successful and unsuccessful people is that the former is great at building and maintaining schedules and priorities.
Scheduling is the art of strategically planning your activities in a way that lets you achieve goals and priories while leaving you enough time to rest and catch up with the world.
An effective schedule will help you understand how much time you truly have and what you can realistically achieve with it.
A great scheduling tool is the Mentor Africa’s in app calendar that helps you create and maintain appointments with your mentees.
Scheduling will help you:
- Establish a working routine
- Set more tangible goals
- Build a feeling of accomplishment
- Build a reputation
- Stay prepared
- Prioritize adequately
4. Accept That It’s Okay to Unplug
In our digital age and the pressures it places on our mental health and personal lives, unplugging is no longer a suggestion. It’s a necessity.
Unplugging involves taking yourself out of social media and sometimes, the internet in entirety.
Unplugging has immeasurable benefits but one prime one is that It allows you some much needed time to recover from the stress of the workweek and reflect on yourself, especially if you work in the digital space or have a lot on online engagements.
Unplugging also means you have time to focus on the things that truly matter without interruptions from work, social media drama, or the pressures of instant messaging.
So instead of checking work emails or being stunned by endless slack messages, you could take a personal day or days to recharge, catch up on your reading, review some documents shared with your mentee, hang out with loved ones, or frankly, anything your heart desires.
5. Make Time for ‘Me Time’
As Africans, working hard is a priority. While being financially stable is generally a goal, a lot of Africans have dependents from immediate and extended family.
Stress like this keeps us on our toes and forces a lot of us to work more than the average person.
However, more than making money available to family, we need to make our time available as well.
Before taking on your work role or becoming a financial provider, you were a person.
Complete with personal goals, dreams and aspirations.
Your personal life that not be neglected because of more recent work life.
Also, there is a need to realize that just like your work life, your personal life should also be planned, scheduled and prioritized.
You can schedule family hangout sessions before time and give it a prominent space in your calendar. This is because if you leave it to chance you simply might never make the time.
So, make a schedule that equally prioritizes your work engagements and family engagements, take vacations, attend birthday parties and as an overall rule of thumb; show up, for your job and for yourself.