6 ways to create harmony in your work life and your personal life
You may have heard the phrase “work-life integration” replacing “work-life balance”. What, you might wonder, exactly is “work-life integration” and how can I achieve it?
Work-life integration involves blending both personal and professional responsibilities. Instead of separating work and personal life completely, and trying to balance the two entities, work-life integration aims to unify your personal and work life in a way that complements both areas as opposed to them competing with each other. This might include starting work earlier in the day in order to be home earlier for volunteer work. Or working late one day a week so you can take your mom to her weekly morning class at the senior center. Or alternating the days you work remotely with your spouse so that one of you is always there when the kids get home from school. Work-life integration is a great way to give equal time and attention to all areas of your life, without having to sacrifice one for the other.
According to UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, work-life integration is “an approach that creates more synergies between all areas that define ‘life’: work, home/family, community, personal well-being, and health.” It’s all about creating harmony between your work and your personal life.
6 tips for work-life integration
1. Have a plan
Make a plan for what you want your work-life integration to look like. Be clear with yourself on what your priorities are and create a detailed plan to work towards those priorities. Talk with your employer about your desired changes (such as a more flexible schedule or remote work arrangements) and emphasize how it can benefit both you and your employer.
2. Know yourself
If you are a night owl and do your best work at night after the kids have gone to bed, perhaps you can schedule some of your work responsibilities for the end of the day and free up part of your day for personal projects. If you’re an early riser, perhaps those hours can be devoted to work so that you have your evenings free for your personal hobbies or time with family and friends. Before creating your work-life integration plan, know when you are most productive.
3. Change your perspective
Work-life means adjusting your approach to scheduling your day. For instance, if your typical routine includes time for you to drop kids off and pick them up at school, it may mean you need to fit some work tasks, such as completing reports or responding to emails, after they’ve gone to bed. Look for opportunities to ensure you are able to fit in your priorities. Perhaps you can take your last meeting of the day on the phone while commuting, or check emails or Slack while you’re on the stationary bike at the gym.
4. Start small
Try making a small shift to get you going in the right direction. For example, you might decide to do yoga in your office in middle of the day, rather than rushing to a class at 5 PM. Or you may wish to start by trying a modified work schedule one day a week, such as starting early and leaving early so that you can watch your son’s weekly soccer game. See if small changes work for you and your employer before adding more.
5. Be flexible
There may be times when some you have little wiggle room in your schedule. You may need to adjust your expectations and be flexible in your thinking. If you need to be at your weekly team meeting in person every Wednesday from 3-5, you may not be able to do anything about that. If there is a work or personal commitment that cannot be adjusted, look for opportunities on another day of the week, or during a different time slot in your day. It’s helpful to approach the work-life integration plan with flexibility and a sense of compromise.
6. Say goodbye to guilt
Let go of the expectation that you should always be working and the feeling of guilt when you devote time to your personal life. Work-life integration shouldn’t be viewed as a luxury or something to feel guilty about. It can help promote health, productivity, and fulfillment. Work-life integration may be the best way to have and do it all.
Helpful resources to learn more about work-life integration:
- TEDTalk: “Switch – Work/life balance to work/life integration”
- Integration: The Power of Being Co-Active in Work and Life
- Women in Management: A Framework for Sustainable Work–Life Integration
- Work and Life Integration: Organizational, Cultural, and Individual Perspectives
- Work-Life Integration Podcast