I have to report the death of ‘Work-life Balance’. Its place on the throne of time-management has been taken by ‘Work-Life Blend’. Why? Because, according to the proliferation of pundits who write about such matters, we have abandoned the idea of balancing our home and work lives in favour of making the two ‘blend’ together in perfect harmony.
It makes sense. Work-life balance for the ambitious alpha entrepreneur was always a pipedream. Work-life blend, given the technology we now have at our disposal, is actually achievable. But you have to be a smooth operator to make it happen.
A different kind of normal
Work life blend is about knocking down the walls between home and office. You do personal things at work and you do work things at home. And, this is the crucial bit: nobody – not your partner, not your boss, not your client, and not even that dreadful colleague who’s always trying to get one up on you – bats an eyelid.
What’s more, how good you are at your job is no longer about appearance (how many hours you sit at your desk) but reality (how much you actually do: your productivity).
Any office or employer that genuinely believes in work-life blend must learn to trust its employees. And employees must have the emotional intelligence – and the self-interest – to reciprocate that trust and deliver what is expected of them. And some.
This is also common sense from an organisational point of view. Given the technology we now possess as individuals; nobody is going to turn off their personal lives for eight hours. Any naïve employer that demands such behaviour is whistling in the dark.
So, given that emotional intelligence (self-regulation, self-awareness and empathy) is essential to create the work-life blend that’s right for you, what’s the best way of achieving it? As I said earlier, your motivation is one of the key pillars.
Doing more of what you love
Which begs a question: what motivates you? If you can say the following three things about an aspect of your job or, if you’re very lucky, the job itself, then it would be fair to say that it is a motivator in your life:
- You look forward to doing it
- You feel invigorated while doing it
- You like to talk about it and when you do, you light up
So, when you have recognised what ‘it’ is (and there may well be more than one) the time has come to make sure you do more of it by modifying your job around it.
‘Job sculpting’ as it’s sometimes called, is as good for companies as it is for employees. Aligning a team member’s tasks with their motivations, can boost morale, loyalty and productivity.
Sculpting is all about nuance. Ask yourself whether there’s anything can you do less of or avoid by transferring to someone who likes doing it? Is there a way of altering those things you don’t enjoy in order to make them less demotivating? And are there tasks you could add to role to increase your motivation? You know what makes you happy. It’s up to you to instigate the changes that will ensure your work involves more of it.
Maintaining your motivation. Staying motivated is the next challenge. It’s easy to let things become stale. Here are a few tips to keep your blend fresh…
Take time to appreciate the progress you make. Regret nothing. See every mistake as a lesson.
Remain focused on your strategy. Don’t get bogged down in the detail. Visualise the future and see the bigger picture. Write your goals down and regularly ask yourself: is what I’m doing getting me closer to those goals?
Exercise. It’s not just good for you, releasing stress and reinvigorating the body, it’s another form of personal development. But please do the type of exercise you enjoy and that motivates you. Not the type of exercise you think you should do. That would be just like doing the wrong job.
Spend time with friends or family. Don’t give up your hobby. Taking a mental break from work challenges – however enjoyable you find them – is essential. And it’ll give you perspective. So you can return to the fray refreshed.
Keep an open mind. Embrace new experiences. And don’t stay in your comfort zone. You’ll be amazed where you can find further inspiration and motivation.
Be brave. Don’t stick with an organisation you don’t believe in. If you can’t see a future there, then I doubt if there is one. Feeling undervalued is one of the greatest demotivators.
However, if you can be proud of the organisation you work for and it allows you to do a proper, satisfying job, in an environment that makes the most of your skills and helps to realise your potential, then you’re onto a very good thing. In fact, could you, er, tell me its name please. Just between the two of us, of course.