Written By Vaibhav Shah

Finding that perfect equilibrium between the work and family is what most of the millennials strive for. And living in this productivity-driven and highly competitive society where the cacophony of terms like “deadlines”, “workload”, “sales-targets” and “overtime” often resonates, it gets even more elusive to achieve that balance.

Let’s be honest, we all try to juggle our work and family responsibilities but often end up giving more priority to one over other. And sometimes, the results are dire - inefficient work, unfulfilled desires, strained relationships, mental stress and poor health.

So, how can we find to that sweet spot where we can achieve the counterpoise between work and family? The so-called work-life balance. 16For that, let's first understand what does the "balance" in work-life balance means?

What does the “balance” mean?

Generally, work-life balance is defined as the division of time and energy between career and family or personal life. And balancing is often referred to putting two things in equal ratio - 50/50. However, the scale of work-life balance is not equal for all.

There are myriad complex life factors governing the scale. Factors such as understanding among family members, the type of work you do, the zest and ambition towards it, love, passion and more.

For example, for some, the family might understand the zest to achieve career endeavors and staying a bit more late at work would do. For others, the five-year-old might be waiting to play catch in the evening. In these different scenarios, the scale for balance is different. And it's only you that can decide your scale.

Whatever, your scale is, you ought to balance your work and family. Even according to Maslow's Hierarchy the base to attaining one’s full potential includes both family and career. Neglecting either one will aftermath an unfulfilled life. So here are a few tips to get maximum out of your work and life that makes it easy for you to manage.

(Maslow's hierarchy of needs - Source)

At Work

1. Know your peak hours - productivity hours

We all work for 8-10 hours a day. But the fact is - no matter how hard you try, whether you gulp down gallons of caffeine or listen to the motivational tracks on your playlist, your productivity is not always at the peak. It slumps.

It might be you can work best during the early work hours or may be in the evening. Find that productive pattern, monitor your working behavior and performance and utilize those productive hours to its fullest. 

2. Use the 80/20 rule

The 80/20 Rule was an economic concept based on the observation of the Italian economist Vilberdo Pareto. He observed that 80% of Italy’s land was possessed 20% of the population (vital few) and the shocking part was that this trend was quite similar in different countries.

This principle is not only applicable in economics but to any situation and field including sports, business, sales and even life management. As per the rule 80% of the effects are the result of 20% of the causes and understanding this 20% of the causes can help you achieve more.

But the misery is - we utilize our time and energy on the “trivial matters”, i.e. the bottom 80% or the least important and procrastinate the “vital few” that results utilizing more time than required. On the other hand, if we understand the 20% of the vital work and stay focused to achieve that managing time for work and family can be much easier.

3. Use Pomodoro technique

Pomodoro technique the is a time management strategy that is getting quite popular these days. Developed by Francesco Cirillo, this technique divides the work in short sprints of 25-minutes and then the tasks are achieved in that time frame. Here is how exactly it works:

  1. Decide the task to be accomplished.
  2. Set the timer of 25 minutes. (Traditionally the timer is set for 25 minutes but people vary it as per the need)
  3. Work on the task.
  4. Take a small break of 3-5 minutes at the end of the 25 minutes; go to step 2.
  5. After completion of four Pomodoros, take a longer break (15–20 minutes) then repeat the whole cycle again.

This technique being similar to agile practices that use timeboxing and incremental and iterative way of development proves to be quite useful in many situations. For instance, designers and developers at my web development company have seen amazing results in their productivity using Pomodoro technique. It hampers any distraction during the work and the short breaks of five minutes refresh the mind without losing the track of the task.

At Home

4. Get a schedule and stick to it

Scheduling is planning your daily, weekly or monthly activities and allocating time for each. It helps you to keep track of the work and ensure you are going in the right direction. Every successful person, business leader and entrepreneur have one thing common in them- setting schedule and routine. Planning activities beforehand gives you ample amount of time  to work on it effectively. It also helps to avoid stressful deadlines and taking on more work than you can not handle and compromising on your family responsibilities.

Use a diary or scheduler to allocate the working hours, time for family, household chores, leisure and fun. Forming a good schedule and following it can make a huge difference to your productivity, health, career and family life. 

(Benjamin Franklin’s Routine - Source)

5. Unplug

Technology has become an integral part of the modern fast life. Just count the number of times we push buttons - from the morning alarm to coffee machines, pushing the start button of the car and the list goes on. We are extremely dependable on technology all the time. Although it is impossible to extract the technology entirely from our life, we must make sure it does not creep in and exhaust our family time.

When at home try to minimize the use of your smartphone, checking emails, social media feeds and all those things that prevent you from spending time with your family and friends. Utilize that time for your family -  have a hearty conversation at the dinner with your spouse or discuss the aspirations of your kids. Unplug from the virtual life and realize the beauty of real one.

6. Exercise regularly

One thing that we both can agree upon is that regular exercise makes you a better version of yourself. Many researches and studies have shown that exercise not only improves physical strength but also brain function, productivity, cardiovascular health and immune system.

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. These are the chemicals that make you happy and feel positive. Physical exercise also releases chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine which are responsible to balance your mood and relieve stress.

Wrapping up

Do you remember the time when you were learning to ride a bicycle? Yes. You were get off-balance, you fall down, get bruised but you stand up and find the right way to balance and ride on two wheels. Life is quite similar. You might be quite wobbly while balancing your work and family but when you try and try and try, you learn to create the balance.

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