No Work-Life Balance? Try Work-Life Harmony Instead
What to do when you want to do it all and have it all.
The start of a new year usually comes with renewed energy to accomplish all that you’ve set out for yourself: picking up pottery, learning a new language, hitting the gym three times a week, scheduling dinner dates with friends once a month…but with so much that we want to do, and only a limited amount of time, it’s easy to see why we often lose steam by the mid-year mark. These goals can appear too big to accomplish sometimes, especially when work gets in the way: unexpected deadlines or last-minute conference calls can all throw a spanner into even the most carefully-planned schedule. However, instead of striving for more work-life balance, we’ve learnt that sometimes you just have to lean in and strive for work-life harmony instead. This means clever ways of integrating your ‘want-to-do’s with your ‘need-to-do’s, and finding sustainable ways of achieving your goals, one step at a time. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Flip it: we’ve used video calls for meetings, but why not set a virtual lunch date with a friend instead for a quick mid-work pick-me-up? These virtual dates were something that became common during Circuit Breaker, and even though we can now meet in person, an online session saves you the hassle and time of having to commute to meet. Get your favourite food delivered (or treat each other!) and find a cosy corner to settle down.
Meet me in the pantry: PM your colleague in a different department to trade snacks, and catch up. A tea-time chat helps to break out of the afternoon lull of the post-lunch food coma, and gives you a much needed energy boost for the remaining hours of the day.
With remote working a viable option for many, all you need is decent WiFi to work anywhere. If you’re one of many who aren’t able to head back to the office yet, you don’t have to be chained to your desk all day. Why not start your morning with a cuppa and breakfast at your favourite café, then hot-desk at a co-working space in the CBD? Who knows—a change of scenery might also give you a different perspective on things.
If you’re like us, our tendency once we’re off the clock is to head straight into a social media app, then spend the rest of the commute home zoning out. But if you’re tired of endlessly scrolling through Instagram, absent-mindedly liking posts or laughing at memes, why not listen to a podcast while commuting, and learn something along the way? Whether you’re curious about anything from music to sexual health, there’s something for you. Tip: while it’s a bit challenging to pay attention to a podcast when working on a monthly report, you can also listen in when doing work that’s more routine or design-driven.
Been meaning to hone your green thumbs or eat more consciously this year? Try starting an edible garden in your office or home. Plants have been proven to lift the mood, and they also give you an excuse to walk around as you tend to your budding seeds. If you’re not sure where to start, try micro greens that are practically failsafe, or simple herbs that you can add to your lunch.
Getting fit or losing weight doesn’t happen overnight, so be realistic in setting your fitness goals. Try being more active overall, in small ways—such as changing up your working position and location every now and then. Try moving from your desk to the meeting room, then spend some time standing while working in the pantry. If you’re having a discussion, try going for a walk with your colleague at the same time—a little blood to the head might make for a clearer mind. It also helps to keep meetings brief!
Friday night drinks can be the bane of anyone trying to stick to a diet, but also wanting to still stay connected with colleagues. Our suggestion: organise an office fitness challenge instead, like going rock climbing or attending a spin class together. One thing we always look forward to is a good dinner right after a workout, so you can still socialise but don’t have to worry so much about your calories consumed.
Sneak in a mini workout, whether you’re at home or in the office. While you’re seated at your desk or on a video call, try using resistance bands or leg weights for some simple training (literally) under the table.
At the end of the year, you might not have accomplished everything that you initially wanted to, but you’d be a lot closer than you’d think. It’s natural to feel frustrated when work gets in the way of plans, but we’ve come to learn that the best way to cope when that happens is to take things in your stride, within reason, and not let it affect your mood for the rest of the day. Instead, get creative and see if you can find more ways to create harmony in your life.
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