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Achieving Work-Life Balance #3: Not Just for Those with Families

Achieving Work-Life Balance #3: Not Just for Those with Families

Work-life balance was first brought into the workplace when employers realized that their employees needed a balance between their work and their life outside of it. Many employers adopted this concept with families in mind, but work-life balance is not just for individuals with a family. It is true that the employees who benefit the most from a work-life balance policy are those with families; however, others do as well.

It is unfair for an employer to offer a policy to certain employees. This is why a healthy balance between work and life is obtainable for all individuals in the workplace. When work-life balance is incorporated into a business structure it applies to all employees. This means that everyone, including unmarried individuals or those without children, can reap the benefits of work-life balance.

To create a positive work environment for their employees, many employers offer work alternatives. These work alternatives often involve flexible hours, working from home, or job sharing. All of these alternatives are likely to decrease the amount of time that an employee has to spend in the workplace when they already have prior engagements.

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When associating single or childless workers with work-life balance there are many individuals who wonder exactly what these employees are doing with their free time. Just because an individual is not married or does not have any children does not mean that they do not have a family. An employee who is taking advantage of their work-free time is likely to visit their mother, father, brother, sister, or other close relatives.

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Every individual, no matter what their status, has a hobby. There are many individuals who have multiple hobbies. A hobby is known as an activity that you love to participate in during your free time. Popular hobbies include, but are not limited to, stamp collecting, photography, writing, playing sports, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Because work-life balance often reduces the amount of hours an employee works there are more individuals who are able to find time for their hobbies.

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Volunteering could be labeled as a hobby, but it also known a service. There are many individuals who, when not working, volunteer in or around their local community. Volunteering is most commonly done at non-profit charities, schools, play groups, and homeless shelters. Volunteering can occur at all hours of the day; however, most volunteers are needed during traditional work hours. Having a healthy balance between work and life is what enables many employees to volunteer during their traditional work hours. It also helps that employers who allow their employees to volunteer during work are highly recognized and appreciated throughout the community.

One of the most common myths associated with a work-life balance is that only those with families benefit from it. As you can see, that myth couldn be farther from the truth. Employees of all ages, social standing, and martial status can benefit and appreciate a healthy work-life balance in the workplace.

— Jennifer Foote.
We will continue to discuss work & life balance in the series of Achieving Work-Life Balance. Stay tuned.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero

What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero

Ah, Inbox Zero. An achievement that so many of us long for. It’s elusive. It’s a productivity benchmark. It’s an ongoing battle.

It’s also unnecessary.

Don’t get me wrong, the way Inbox Zero was initially termed is incredibly valuable. Merlin Mann coined the phrase years ago and what he has defined it as goes well beyond the term itself.[1]

Yet people have created their own definition of Inbox Zero. They’re not using it with the intent that Mann suggested. Instead, it’s become about having nothing left in immediate view. It’s become about getting your email inbox to zero messages or having an empty inbox on your desk that was once filled with papers. It’s become about removing visual clutter.

But it’s not about that. Not at all.

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Here’s what inbox zero actually is, as defined by Mann:

“It’s about how to reclaim your email, your atten­tion, and your life. That “zero?” It’s not how many mes­sages are in your inbox–it’s how much of your own brain is in that inbox. Especially when you don’t want it to be. That’s it.” – Merlin Mann

The Fake Inbox Zero

The sense of fulfillment one gets from clearing out everything in your inbox is temporary at best, disappointing at worst. Often we find that we’re shooting for Inbox Zero just so that we can say that we’ve got “everything done that needed to be done”. That’s simply not the case.

Certainly, by removing all of your things that sit in your inbox means that they are either taken care of or are well on their way to being taken care of. The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is often applied to clearing out your inbox. But unless you’ve actually done something with the stuff, it’s either not worth having in your inbox in the first place or is still sitting in your “mental inbox”.

You have to do something with the stuff, and for many people, that is a hard thing to do. That’s why Inbox Zero – as defined by Mann – is not achieved as often as many people would like to believe. It’s this “watered down” concept of Inbox Zero that is completed instead. You’ve got no email in your inbox and you’ve got no paper on your desk’s inbox. So that must mean you’re at Inbox Zero.

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Until the next email arrives or the next document comes your way. Then you work to get rid of those as quickly as possible so that you can get back to Inbox Zero: The Lesser again. If it’s something that can be dealt with quickly, then you get there. But if they require more time, then soon you’ve got more stuff in your inboxes. So you switch up tasks to get to the things that don’t require as much time or attention so that you can get closer to this stripped down variation of Inbox Zero.

However, until you deal with the bigger items, you don’t quite get there. Some people feel as if they’ve let themselves (or others) down if they don’t get there. And that, quite frankly, is silly. That’s why this particular version of Inbox Zero doesn’t work.

The Ultimate Way to Get to Inbox Zero

So what’s the ultimate way to get to Inbox Zero?

Have zero inboxes.

The inbox is meant to be a stop along the way to your final destination. It’s the place where stuff sits until you’re ready to put it in the place where it sits until you’re ready to deal with it.

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So why not skip the inbox altogether? Why not put it in the place where it sits until you’re ready to deal with it? Because that requires immediate action. It means you need to give the item some thought and attention.

You need to step back and look at it rather than file it. That’s why we have a catch-all inbox, both for email and for analog items. It allows us to only look at these things when we’re ready to do so.

The funny thing is that we can decide when we’re ready to without actually looking at the inbox beforehand. We can look at things on our own watch rather than when we are alerted to or feel the need to.

There is no reason why you need an inbox at all to store things for longer than it sits there before you see it. None. It’s a choice. And the choice you should be making is how to deal with things when you first see them, rather than when to deal with things you haven’t looked at yet.

Stop Faking It

Seeing things in your inboxes is simply using your sight. Looking at things in your inbox when you first see them is using insight.

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Stop checking email more than twice per day. Turn off your alerts. Put your desk’s inbox somewhere that it can be accessed by others and only accessed by you when you’re ready to deal with what’s in it. Don’t put it on your desk – that’s productivity poison.

If you want to get to Inbox Zero — the real Inbox Zero — then get rid of those stops along the way. You’ll find that by doing that, you’ll be getting more of the stuff you really want done finished much faster, rather than see them moving along at the speed of not much more than zero.

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Featured photo credit: Web Hosting via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merlin Mann: Inbox Zero

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