All Work and No Play?

HRM 29 Oct 2012

Is your life mostly work and little play?  Is your free time devoted to other people’s fun rather than your own?  Instead of making things easier, has technology made your life busier? 

If you answered “yes” to any or all of the questions above, chances are your work-life balance needs some fine tuning.  This may sound daunting but here’s some good news: you’re not alone; working culture is slowly changing for the better; and there are simple strategies you can implement now for a more balanced life. 

Work-life balance and work

Mothers might have pioneered work-life balance as they entered the workforce in the last three decades.  But these days it’s open to everyone: people caring for aging parents, people with children, or people who want to pursue goals outside of work. 

Here in Singapore, the government regards itself as a cheerleader of work-life balance policies, seeing them as a way to combat the declining birth-rate. Increasingly, organisations are offering flexi-time, telecommuting and compressed hours.  In today’s competitive global market, some companies use work-life balance policies to attract and retain talent. 

Work-life balance and life

Work-life balance isn’t only about human resource policies.  Work-life balance challenges us to think about how we, individually, manage our lives.  Whether we like it or not, we are the masters of our own universe.  Only we can create the lives we want. 

Try to remember what you wanted when your dreams were big and everything seemed possible.  Feeling balanced means not losing sight of what’s important to us.  It means setting achievable goals that are aligned with our values, interests and talents. Dreams, a wise woman once said, are goals with deadlines. 

Overcoming Imbalance

While it’s good to consider the macro perspective, it’s also about the simple things.  That’s the whole idea behind the small change principle, which claims that the best way to change a system is to make a small change that will ripple through the entire system – the way a tiny pebble can create waves across a large pond. 

It might be something as simple as taking 15 minutes out for a quiet coffee in a charming café.  How about trying to get more sleep?  There’s a simple idea that can have a profound effect on your day. 

We might not be able to make drastic changes in our life, but we can change our mindset.  Stress, for instance, is blamed for all sorts of health problems.  Did you know that stress can be positive?  Without it, we lack interest and under-perform.  Think of stress as a friend who can push you to succeed, but you have to be careful because this friend will seize control if you let him.  

Maybe that’s the secret to leading a balanced life: don’t let anything or anyone live your life for you. So, go sleep for eight hours, dream of a perfect world, and wake up smelling roses, or whatever it is that makes you smile.   




Contributed by:

Tara Mitchell

Training Consultant, Professional Development Centre

British Council


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Commented by: HENRI TAN at 29 Oct 2012 01:01 PM Report this comment
While the society has been reviewing Worklife Balance in the last one two years, my personal opinion is that the onus of responsibility lies with the individual. I believe the key is to add 'variety' to your life instead of letting works be the major part of your life despite the fact that most of us work more 8 hours a day.

Adding variety means injecting different experiences into our physical health, mental state and/or our spiritual well-being. Physical exercise is a must to beat stress ; a 30 mins brisk walk in the park rejuvenates your day or play badminton with your colleagues or friends are some examples of adding variety to your life.

As for mental health, take up a lesson after work. For example, learn a foreign language, go for flower-arrangement class, join a social-dance or belly-dance class etc.

As for spiritual well being, it is well understood. Doing voluntary work is one good example.

The key, I repeat, is to add variety to your life.
Commented by: lily at 01 Nov 2012 12:10 PM Report this comment
There is more of life than just work. HODs must take responsibility for the work-life balance, but no only just hope your subordinates to stay late beyond office hours, and even worse, the official contractual 44 hours per week is already very long!

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