The term “work-life balance” is so 2010.
Work-life balance is when you see personal and professional as two different things. The idea is to find a good balance between the two, so you don’t work too much, but still have a great time at work.
A new way to approach this is work-life blend.
Work-life blend is quite different. The gig economy is growing. Rather than being a full-time, fixed employee for ever and ever, you go in and take on temporary positions in an organization and do what you do best. Independent workers going into large organizations doing short-term engagements. This is a trend that statistically is increasing. Work-life blend is having flexible work hours, a clear line between what is work and what is not work. It’s your responsibility to blend the two.
The key to work-life blend is to find a flow that works for you.
I actually spend time finding my best possible flow. Whenever I do work at home, I try to think, how do I distribute my day in the best possible way? I might start with some reflection, sitting in the big chair by the fireplace. Then I will go up in the office and do focused work.
If I have Skype meetings, I sit in the conservatory with lots of light. I try to use the afternoons, when I know my daughters are coming back home from school, to sit and work in the kitchen. I know around that time that I’ll have a break and a nice cup of coffee with them and a nice chat.
That usually means I’ll have a shorter lunch because I know that’s how I’m going to work. Now that I work differently, I’ve noticed new inspiration and creativity in my work. I used to be so focused on my specific tasks and duties in my previous roles that I did not open up for other things. It’s good for your energy to do things differently once in a while.
What if you’re a full-time employee? How to I find my flow?
It’s challenging the system a little bit. I remember when I was managing a large department and I had this talented new graduate join my team. In our introduction meeting, she said, “Just to let you know, I’m not really a morning person, so I’m suggesting that it’s better if I come in after 10 in the morning.” I was like, “Um…no.” I’m such an early bird; I’m in the office at 7, so I thought the slackers came in at 9.
I was completely inflexible, and now I’m asking myself why.
She didn’t want to work less, she was probably brilliant in the evening. For sure there would be days where it was required that she be there at 9, but other days, why not? Why was I so hard on that? With the new generation coming up, established organizations will be challenged to take into consideration the flow of their employees. Probably to everyone’s advantage. So I would encourage full-time employees to consider how you can plan your day accordingly when you do meetings and when you do introverted work. Think about how to create your best flow. How do you work best? And proactively try to put that into your way of working, because that will give you a much better working life.
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