Does this sound familiar? You spend all day writing emails, having meetings, doing work. Finally, you come home and you find yourself continuing to respond to work emails, finishing up all the work that did not get completed from the day, until you go to sleep and go back to work the next morning. You have given up your whole day to your work and have not taken any time for yourself. You are not alone – a 2014 report (Alterman et al.) found that 16.3% of Americans struggle with work-life balance.
Work-life balance is the concept of balancing all aspects of one’s life and includes work but also includes social life, fun activities/leisure, and family. Typically, work-life balance is a problem when people are working too many hours and neglecting their own needs. If we want to feel a sense of fulfillment and happiness, it is essential for us to engage in activities that are not related to work. These activities can be social, personal, or family oriented and they are vital to who we are as people.
Work-life balance is a concept that has only really been around for the past 30-40 years. This can probably be attributable to technological advances in our society. Technology has improved our work efficiency across the board. Things that used to take days to complete now take seconds. While technology can be a handy tool, it can also create a feeling of needing to be available at all times. This blurs the line between personal-time and work-time. In other words, just because you go home does not mean your work day is over. People today struggle with work-life balance, especially when their work is everywhere with them – with smartphones and email. People could have access to work anytime and anywhere. This can make it challenging to create boundaries and balance.