How to Establish Work-Life Integration instead of Work-life Balance
How can you establish work-life integration?
- Try to stay flexible
- Take some time off
- Remember to unplug
- Observe your work behavior then plan your day accordingly
If you are part of the workforce then you’ve probably already heard of the term “work-life balance” — a balance between your work and personal life in terms of allocating time, attention, and energy.
Despite the popularity of the concept, trying to achieve a balance between the two can prove to be difficult. In fact, many people struggle to find the right kind of balance which can lead to stress and burnout from work and aspects of life.
The good news is that there is a new phrase gaining popularity in recent years that can be considered as an alternative to work-life balance — “work-life integration”. Continue reading if you are interested in knowing what work-life integration is, how it can benefit you in your professional life, and how you can try to establish it in your life.
Integration over balance
One of the main reasons why integration is a more suitable word to describe the relationship between your work and personal life is that it doesn’t evoke opposition. If you think about the word ‘balance’, its imagery, and how it is commonly used in language, you will notice that it creates a sense of competition or division between two or more elements. For example, balance is often used to describe the relationship between good and evil or represented symbolically through a scale.
Instead, work-life integration is an approach that tries to establish synergy and harmony between all the different aspects of life whether its work, family, community, or personal wellbeing and health. In contrast with the compartmentalization approach that balancing entails, work-life integration can be a better and a more holistic approach to the improvement of your life in general.
It would be helpful to think about it this way: work-life balance implies that those two things must exist on either side of an axis, in this case, the individual. Meanwhile, work-life integration implies that there are no sides and that both work and life must always be dynamically and harmoniously managed.
With all that being said, here are some ways you can establish work-life integration.
Try to stay flexible
Flexibility is a great word to associate with work-life integration because it suggests a dynamic approach to managing certain elements of your life. When it comes to your work or your workplace, you can try becoming flexible in terms of the time you spend doing your responsibilities.
For example, try doing a little work from home or establishing a remote work schedule. You can also find ways to handle personal errands and tasks while you’re at work. Convenience without sacrificing productivity is what you should strive for in terms of being flexible. As long as your workplace or boss permits, do your best to seamlessly blend your given responsibilities to create a daily flow that’s convenient for you.
Take some time off
You probably already know or have experienced this in one form or another, but achieving a high level of productivity means having a clear or fresh mind. That being said, taking time off is a must if you want to get that clear state of mind. If you’re feeling tired or stressed at work or even at home, take a 5-10-minute break to get some fresh air outside. A simple change of environment can work wonders in improving your productivity.
Higher productivity means satisfaction for you, your workmates, boss, and family so always try to take momentary breaks to maintain high productivity.
Remember to unplug
One big pitfall when it comes to maintaining a work-life balance is that work somehow manages to follow you wherever you go. Constantly thinking about work from sunrise until sundown tends to be both mentally and physically exhausting, which is why you should learn how to ‘unplug’.
As a rule of thumb, try your best not to work outside of your workplace unless it’s urgent or part of your flexible remote working schedule. By taking sincere mental breaks from office matters, you get to take a step back and recharge your mind and body.
Unplugging is different from taking some time off because you can’t necessarily unplug while you’re at work doing something important. Putting the two together would mean taking healthy breaks to maximize productivity while at the same time knowing when to stop thinking about work to focus on other things.
Observe your work behavior then plan your day accordingly
By now you should know that everyone works differently. Some may be more energetic and productive during the morning, while others tend to work the hardest during the afternoon. There will always be certain hours in a day when you are most attentive and focused. This is primarily the reason why you should make a conscious effort to observe your behavior and tendencies at work and plan your day with those observations in mind.
Use a pen and pad if you must because one of the keys to successful work-life integration is listening to your body and working with it to ensure the best quality of work. For example, if you notice that you get the most amount of work done before lunchtime, try to finish your hardest tasks during that time.
It is important to note that adopting a work-life integration over a work-life balance must always start in the mind. Avoid the rigid mentality that treats work and personal life two separate aspects that need to be independently managed. Instead, find ways on how you can synergize the two in your daily life and go from there.