You’ve probably heard that the average human being spends one-third of their life sleeping. So how do we make sure that we’re getting the most out of our sleep? We buy an expensive, adjustable mattress, we shell out money for pillows from Sweden and we take all the necessary precautions to insomnia-proof our rooms–blackout curtains, dim alarm clock, white noise generator, the works.
So what about other parts of your life? Where do you think you spend most of your time? What do you think is the one place that might matter most for the sake of your mental well-being?
Your first thought would probably be your house–maybe your living room or den, more specifically. We do, after all, come home from work every day to our living room, relax on the couch and flick on the TV for a few hours before retiring to bed.
But what about the one place we spent eight or nine hours every weekday for years? That’s right–your office.
Cultivating an atmosphere in your audience that is both beneficial to work and conducive to employee morale remaining high is incredibly important in the grand scheme of things. So how do we create such an environment?
Lead by Example, not By Fear
Do you consider yourself to be a boss, or do you consider yourself to be a leader? If you’re running the office like a totalitarian regime, it might be time to dial it back a bit. The best bosses don’t lead their employees by intimidation or by sparking fear of being terminated in their minds. Instead, they help to motivate their employees and guide them towards success, not just demand that they hit certain milestones.
Open Yourself to Compliments…and Criticism
Everyone loves being told they’re good at their job. On the other hand, few are able to deal with criticism. Make sure that This goes for the management and the employees wherever you work. Opening up a two-way channel of communication between employees and management allows for critiques and corrections to be exchanged fluidly and smoothly. If someone at the office thinks that there is a better way to handle a problem they should be happy to share the idea with his or her fellow employees.
By creating a culture that revolves around an open flow of communication, employees will be more relaxed and easygoing, which will allow for a much more welcoming atmosphere.
Make It Relaxing
A relaxed employee is a happy employee, and a happy employee is a hard working employee who will enjoy coming to work. By nature, office work can be stressful. Really, any work can be stressful, but looking at the same cubicle wall day after day can come close to driving a man or woman insane. So liven up the office.
Make sure the office is well-lit. Dim lighting can give an air of prison, which is not particularly conducive to hard-work and fun. Having an office that has comfortable seating, a well stocked and well-furnished break room and doesn’t closely resemble Cell Block A will make the employees at any business enjoy coming to work much more than the alternate.
Unless it interferes directly, let employees listen to music. Essentially, make work a place where people can get work done without constantly being on the verge of a mental breakdown.
Go ahead and Google the phrase “work-life balance,” and see what sorts of results you get. Go ahead–I’ll wait. I wouldn’t expect you to sift through all 21 million plus results that Google suggests for the term, as that would take up far too much of your free time. Your “life,” the crucial “good” part of that work-life balance. Without sifting too far past the first page, almost every result offers quick tips on how to better your work-life balance, how to make it the most effective it can be and how to reclaim the control that you may have lost as your work spills into your life time, and your life spills into your work time. All of these results, I’m sure, are hot takes that you undoubtedly couldn’t find anywhere else among the aforementioned 21 million results.
Except maybe once this post goes live, because I’m here to dispel the idea of a work-life balance once and for all. Strap in, because things are going to get interesting.
First things first: you don’t need to balance your work and your life. Or at least, you shouldn’t. Perhaps if you’ve read my past posts on Business as a Game you know where I’m headed with this. The “business as a game” mentality permeates my work life (notice I used both in the same sentence in a positive connotation) to such a degree that almost every challenge I face, every scenario that gets thrown my way acts as another opponent in my game. I love games–and I love what I do. Coincidence? Probably not. It’s far more likely due to the fact that my mentality when approaching work is one that allows me to enjoy it.
When I get home from work in the evening, I don’t typically feel the need to “unwind.” I don’t feel stressed out, I feel amped up. When you enjoy what you do, your work doesn’t feel like work. “How,” you may be asking yourself, “does that sentence make any sense?” Let me break it down for you.
The word “work” carries with it a heavily negative connotation. Often the word is used as an addendum as one replies in the negative to an invitation to an event. “Sorry, I can’t go to the movies, I’ve got work,” or “no I won’t be able to make your birthday, I’m bogged down at work right now,” both clearly negative uses. It implies that work in and of itself is bad, something to be avoided if at all possible. If you look at “work” as strictly negative, you may find yourself in need of a “work-life balance,” but if you open your eyes to the fact that work does not have to be negative, you won’t feel that need.
Don’t get me wrong, there are jobs we don’t enjoy doing. Maybe that’s what you’re doing wrong if you feel an intrinsic, burning desire to leave right when the clock hits 5 o’clock to balance your work and your life. The fact of the matter remains that if you’re in the right job–a job in which you enjoy doing what you do–it won’t feel like work.
Don’t misconstrue this post as an inspirational “anyone can do anything” post–that’s not what I have intended. There is only one President of the United States at any given time, and there have only been 44 thus far in America’s ~240 year history. No matter how hard I try, I’m fairly certain that I won’t be number 45 on that list, or 46, 47 or 48 for that matter. Not every single person can do every single thing they set their mind to. But what you can do is find something you enjoy doing, and do it.
Chances are, you don’t need a better work-life balance, you just need a better job, or a better mentality.