It is that time of the year again. The time to not just eat, drink and be merry, but also to make New Year’s resolutions. A very popular New Year resolution professionals make in the Middle East is to achieve a better work-life balance. According to a regional poll by Bayt.com on the top New Year resolutions among professionals in the Middle East, 12.8% said they want to spend more time with family and friends; 11.8% said they want to work out more; 9.2% said they want to take more vacations; and 5.6% said they want to meet new people.
Our poll on work-life balance has revealed that the ability to maintain a decent work-life balance is key to achieving personal happiness and job satisfaction in the region. While 56.7% of professionals agree that they have achieved a good work-life balance, 43.3% claim they have not. The same poll shows that 26.9% of respondents feel the area most affected due to work-life imbalance is their mental health. For 15.6% of them, the imbalance is felt to hinder their professional and personal growth, and for 7.8% the imbalance deters performance on the job. Only 12.8% of professionals polled agree that what they like most about their job is the level of work-life balance achieved.
For many entrepreneurs, creating a work-life balance is nearly impossible. Entrepreneurs generally struggle with managing their working hours, spending quality time with loved ones and personally-fulfilling activities, and at the same time, getting enough sleep, healthy meals and exercise. With the odds stacked against them, how can entrepreneurs achieve the dream of work-life balance? Here are just a few tips to help even the busiest of entrepreneurs strike a balance between personal and professional life.
1. Be clear about your priorities Take some time to revisit your values and priorities and understand what really matters to you most. Is it money, and if so, how much do you really want or need? Is it time with family and friends? Is it freedom to pursue hobbies and interests? Is it accelerated professional growth and recognition? Once you have come to grips with what you truly value most you can seek to focus on that area and accept changes, even compromises in others, as you minimize distractions in search of a better balance. According to our poll, 64.8% of respondents would agree to an income cut if it would allow them more free time. The poll shows that 14.8% feel better prioritization of home and work tasks is key to achieving a better work-life balance.
2. Set SMART goals As per the same poll cited above, 63.2% of professionals admit that they usually work outside regular work hours, and 27.8% admit that they do it out of necessity. Often this is due to poor planning and lack of clarity on what constitutes success on a task or project. Without SMART goals you are invariably setting yourself up to an unhappy scenario. Unless you understand where the goalposts in life are, you are almost sure to miss them every time. Ask yourself in your professional and in your personal life at very regular intervals where you are planning to go and how soon you need to get there to have a very clear vision of success and plan a clear path to get there. Without careful planning and a sound vision and measure of success, you may exert more effort than needed in some areas of your life at the expense of others you value equally or more.
3. Optimize your productivity 22.2% of respondents in the work-life balance poll believe that greater productivity is most needed to achieve a better work-life balance. Think of all the time you can free up to do other things if you improve your productivity levels through that much extra effort, focus, efficiency, or learning. The most ambitious and successful entrepreneurs are lifelong learners committed to always being ahead of the curve in the learning it requires to achieve leadership in their domain.
4. Get organized Poor organization could lead to your work hours bleeding into your personal time and to that constant feeling of panic and confusion. Get organized to regain control over your life. Start the year with a clear vision and an annual plan for both your personal and professional life. Clear your mental and physical spaces and make room for the new by relieving yourself of clutter and thoughts and habits that have not served you well in the past. To-do lists are a great tool to help you both organize and prioritize your daily tasks. Keep your lists realistic; if you find that you have too many things to do and too little time, you need to either prioritize or schedule to do them later.
5. Choose a healthy lifestyle Bayt.com’s work satisfaction poll shows that 39.3% of professionals are occasionally affected by work-related stress, and as many as 34.8% indicate work stress affects them most of the time. This may be correlated to the fact that 46.7% of professionals admit that they don’t spend enough time with their family and friends and 57% say they don’t spend enough time exercising. Work-related stress can eat away into, not only your productivity, but also your personal and family time. Often, managing work-related stress is largely about managing expectations. Ask yourself is there an easier and faster way to complete your more stressful tasks? Or perhaps there is no easier way, in which case you need to ask for help. Work-life balance begins with managing stress by committing to a healthier lifestyle that includes better time management, better eating habits, regular exercise and a generous time allocation to activities that make one feel truly satisfied, fulfilled and happy.
6. Celebrate your weekend The weekend is yours. And just as you set a daily planner for tasks at work, make sure you do the same for your weekend and time off work. Schedule activities with family and friends, take the kids on a weekend trip, go camping, hiking, biking; just make sure you do allot a couple of hours solely for your personal well-being. Indulge in a spa session, a soul feeding mini-retreat, a long walk or any other activity that makes you relax and unwind. You’ve worked hard all year to make ends meet and you absolutely deserve it! No matter how much you love your business, remember, you are working to live; not living to work. 33% of professionals believe a better work-life balance would cause them to feel more fulfilled overall, as per a recent poll by we executed on happiness and personal fulfillment in the Middle East.