Work-life balance: what is this soft skill, how does it work, and how to upgrade it

Work-life balance (after this WLB) is a subjective metric, one of the soft skills. It is challenging to develop a standard WLB because it will be individual for each person. For some, a 12-hour workday is okay. And for some people, even 4 hours of work will be a lot.

Work-life balance is more than just an 8-hour working day

Since WLB is subjective, a person who experiences an imbalance or disproportion feels it without additional measurements.

If you feel WLB imbalance and want to balance Work-life balance, use the following algorithm:

  1. Explore the Work-life balance problem.
  2. Identify the causes of Work-life balance problems.
  3. Change your beliefs.
  4. Support yourself in the process of working on yourself.

How to evaluate your Work-life balance and identify the problem?

Explore your Work-life balance with the famous Wheel of Balance coaching technique.

Wheel of Balance Work-life balance soft skill

  • Draw a circle and divide it into 6-12 sectors — each of them will be responsible for 1 area in your life. For example, work, hobbies, health, sports, relationships, friends, family, entertainment, etc.
  • In each sector, place a score from 1 (minimum) to 10 (maximum) — how satisfied you are now with this area of life.
  • Evaluate the results and pay attention to the areas where you scored the lowest.
  • Choose from the lagging areas you would like to work on to balance your wheel.

Identify the reasons why your work-life balance is disturbed

If the results you got in the previous exercise tell you there are problems with WLB, investigate the causes of those problems. Use the 5WHY technique.

For example:

Question 1: I work too much — Why?

1 answer: Because my boss gives me complex tasks with a deadline, I can’t refuse these tasks.

Question 2: Why can’t I opt out?

Answer 2: Because I’m afraid that the boss will be disappointed in me and give me negative feedback.

Question 3: Why am I afraid that the boss will be disappointed in me?

Answer 3: Because my boss’s opinion is essential, he must see me as an indispensable employee.

Question 4: Why is it essential for me to be an indispensable worker?

Answer 4: I’m afraid that if I look weak, the boss will stop giving me exciting projects.

Standard advice in Work-life balance

  • Leave work on time.
  • Find yourself a hobby.
  • Take advantage of vacation.

In this example, it can be seen that the employee is tired, not because he needs to learn how to manage his time. The problem is that the employee thinks he has to work harder so that the boss gives him exciting projects. The employee himself agrees to work more but is very tired and afraid to talk about it with the boss.

Menteora offers to upgrade the Work-life balance

WLB balance is your attitude to what is happening. You are either satisfied with your Work-life balance, or you are not.

Suppose you evaluate Work-life balance by satisfaction with your life. In that case, it becomes clear that you cannot solve the WLB problem simply by resting more. WLB is affected not only by the amount of time in the office but also by its quality. For example, you may work only 6 hours a day, but there are conflicts within the team. Therefore, if it is difficult for you to be in the office, you are happy to leave at the end of the working day. It can’t be called balance!

Beliefs that lead to disruption of work-life balance

I can’t say no

Often we cannot refuse. We need to learn how to indicate and defend the boundaries of our personal space. Suppose you are used to agreeing to work overtime to work on weekends. In that case, it is difficult for you to change this pattern of behavior. But you can change yourself if you want to and work on yourself regularly.

Use the 5WHY technique:

For example, you take on complex tasks and work more than others because you are afraid you will seem like the wrong specialist. ‍

Ask yourself: will people think I am a lousy specialist if I refuse this additional work? Usually, already at this stage, you can see the logical problem with this assumption — you would not be asked for help if you were considered a poor specialist.

If it is still difficult for you to refuse the boss, turn on your prudence after that. Can I compensate for overtime with extra days off or double pay?

Become your own lawyer, and protect your interests. Practice turning down small requests first. This exercise will give you self-confidence because refusal is a skill that can be learned with practice.

I have to prove that I am a professional

Professionals and beginners fall into this trap. People want to impress their boss and co-workers and work harder than they need to.

What are the signals that you are making this mistake:

  • You say you are a perfectionist trying to achieve the maximum result.
  • It scares you when you imagine your colleagues or boss criticizing the quality of your work.
  • You demonstrate how hard and overtime you work.

How to get rid of the professional syndrome and align Work-life balance:

  • Ask yourself: am I working now, or do I want to prove something? If you are trying to prove something, ask yourself why you need this? When you want to show yourself like a pro, ask yourself: are there other ways to do it? How can I prove my professionalism if I don’t work harder and harder than anyone else? How to do quality work and observe work-life balance?
  • Perfectionists treat any task like an exam, where you must get the maximum mark. Treat jobs like a test: either pass the test or fail the test. It doesn’t matter how deeply you have worked on the task. You have no grades but only one goal — to pass the test.

I have no idea what to do outside the office when I’m not working

In this case, a person mistakenly considers working the most essential thing in life. These people lose the meaning of life outside the office.

How to fix this Work-life balance problem:

  • Think: what is important to you besides work? What are you interested in? What will you happily spend your free time on if you stop thinking about work and spending all your time on it?
  • Get new activities and new people outside the office.
  • Leave all thoughts about work in the office. At first, it will be difficult. Practice doing this every day.

I feel like I mind my own business

Unlike the previous ones, this delusion causes procrastination and prevents you from working. This condition violates the work-life balance.

How to recognize this Work-life balance problem?

  • You are in no hurry to go to work.
  • You need to do some work.
  • You don’t like Sunday because you must go to work on Monday.

How to fix this problem in Work-life balance:

  • Figure out how you really want to make money. What did you like to do as a child? What do you do best? What kind of work energizes you?
  • Take a break from work.
  • Make new friends, and discuss their work with them.

Take the test Menteora and find out what soft skills you need to upgrade: