Work-Life Balance…some thoughts


The term ‘work-life balance’ is a loosely used term and means different things to different people. However, consensus is that most of us use the term in the following sense. It basically refers to a situation where we are provided with enough opportunity, time and energy to pursue our passions, hobbies and interests outside of office. While for most of us this might just mean spending time with the family, kids at home, for a few of us, this might also refer to the fact that we have enough time to train for marathons, pursue hobbies like trekking, cycling, quizzing, theatre, music, reading, etc. In a nutshell, work-life balance refers to a situation where we have enough time outside of office to take a break, unwind and recharge our batteries which will directly contribute to our productivity inside office as well.

However, given that most of us spend at least 12 hrs outside of home every day, including travel time to and from office, this term has become just a dream. Added to that is the fact that most of us live in nuclear families and consequently most of our weekends are spent in purchasing groceries, cleaning our homes, paying utility bills, etc. We therefore are pretty much left with no time to pursue any kind of interests or hobbies. In fact the situation is so bad for most of us that we only have around an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening when we get to see our spouse, kids, talk to them and spend some quality time with them.

As if this was not bad enough, all the time we spend in office is also spent tackling hectic deadlines, pressure-filled deliverables, managing hyper competitive colleagues who will snatch away that elusive 1st bucket rating and promotions, and ever demanding supervisors. All our time in office is spent either looking at our monitors or over our shoulders at what people sitting around us are doing to get that competitive edge over them. Even the people who profess not to be worried by appraisals and promotions do get affected to whatever small extent when they see that the person who got promoted was someone who in their opinion was not necessarily a deserving candidate.

Add to this the tension we all face in our journey to and from office. Even if we are using company transport, the fact that the bus drivers make it a point to make the journey like a roller-coaster ride does not help. The loud blaring horns, the constant swerving and changing of lanes, the frequent sudden brakes, all of this make this journey a terrible one. I am not even going to talk about the people who use their own transport to office. Lesser said about their travails, the better.

The easiest thing for all of us to do in such situations is to blame our supervisor, our boss, our company for ensuring such a bad work-life balance for all of us. But how many of us have taken a step back and thought about how much responsibility we ourselves should take for the situation we find ourselves in. Yes, client commitments, deadlines, timeline pressures, etc are not self imposed, but the high expectations we have from ourselves, our desire to get a 1st bucket appraisal every time, our desire to get promoted every 24 months, all of these are our own doing, right???

That and the fact that we all get so caught up in the rat race, that we don’t realize when we succumb to mob mentality and start running with the crowd. Most of the times, we do things because everyone around us is doing it. We want a promotion, earn more money, because everyone wants that. How many of us stop and think, hey, is that what I really want from life? Am I not better off spending more time with my family, loved ones, doing things that I really love doing? How many of us ask ourselves these questions?

Read this wonderful thought-provoking article in the Fortune magazine which asks us to stop blaming our boss for a crazy work-life. Although the examples and references are to the US context, am sure we are all smart enough to draw parallels to our Indian context and glean necessary lessons from the same.

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