Career Q&A - How to balance my work and my life?

I have been struggling with heavy work loads and it has affected my family and personal life. What can I do about this? - Rebecca, Sales Rep

Is it work and life integration or balance or something else? We have all heard different perspectives to this situation of how work and life should be lived out. On one extreme, we have the brutal work culture of 9-9-7 (9am to 9pm 7 days a week) and even 0-0-7 (24 hours online 7 days a week) which happens in China. On the other extreme, we have more companies and countries from the West experimenting with a 4 day work week.


While both extremes are not often experienced in Singapore, many people here still feel a struggle of balancing their work with their lives. The social norm of dual income families often lead to tired adults from a day of work having to deal with chores, spousal, children and / or parents caregiving, leaving little time for personal enjoyment, leisure and hobbies. Poor management practices, poor job sizing and a lack of manpower at the workplace may also lead to employees being overloaded.


At AVODAH People Solutions, we see this tension between balancing work and life as a common reason why people write in to us to seek career guidance. The imbalance between work and life leads to thoughts of resignation or career change which in turn creates fear, uncertainty and concern as changes to work could have numerous areas of impact to the family, lifestyle and finances. We also see that a job change may not be the best solution if there is a repeated theme of work and life balance tensions across a series of past jobs.


Here are some perspectives for you to consider if you are struggling with work and life balance.


Analyse what's causing the work and life tension

Take some time to reflect and list out the factors that are causing the work and life tension. Usually its a combination of factors that may include a personal or professional event change (ie. something that happens to you at home or at work), a personal or professional resource change (ie. something that affects how much time and attention you can devote). Understanding the factors causing the tension allows you to identify root causes and attempt to mitigate or resolve them to ease the tension.


Regard the work in your life roles, not just your job

It is important to remember that your life and your work are not opposite ends of a rope. Work is the output of what you do each day of your life and therefore it goes beyond your job. Whether you are at your workplace preparing a sales pitch for a multi million project or at home preparing a short lesson to teach your children, they are all considered work. The trouble for many of us is that we have associated work with our jobs because it pays us money hence we regard our jobs higher than the other forms of work that is required of us each day. Acknowledge that your life comprises of multiple roles, as a parent, a worker, a child, a spouse and the payback you get from these roles goes beyond money and lasts longer than money.


Engage those who matter in solutioning

Even when faced with work and life tensions, many of us choose to live day to day on a survival mode, in hopes that things would change. The prolonged effect of not addressing the tension may lead to destabilisation of personal emotional wellness, relationships and work performance. After all, it is unlikely for you to perform well at the workplace when things at home or things on your mind are not well. Identify people in your life who you can trust to lend you a listening ear and get good advice from. Attempt to engage your family members and your supervisor to objectively share about the tension you are facing and seek understanding and solutions from them.


If you are juggling with many balls that represent your family, work and life - which ones would glass balls that break and which ones would be rubber balls that you can pick up later?


At AVODAH People Solutions, we provide career guidance services to people who are considering career changes, making a job change or currently in a transition to find a job. Share your career situation with us so that we can support you.