Balancing work and life is never easy—you may find yourself struggling to know when or how to dedicate your attention to sometimes-conflicting priorities. Maybe you end up giving too much time to your personal life, causing your job to suffer, or maybe you spend so much time focused on work that you miss opportunities to connect with family and friends, work on hobbies or simply de-stress. What if, instead, you focused less on balancing and more on integrating the different needs of your daily life? To learn what that really means and how you can do it, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council how someone might achieve work-life integration, rather than work-life balance. Here’s what they said:
1. Blend responsibilities.
Work-life integration is the new work-life balance. Rather than trying to keep things separate, it’s about finding a way to integrate the two. Do a little work from home, build in some remote work time, find ways to efficiently handle personal errands and tasks while at work if it’s easier. It’s all about seamlessly blending responsibilities to create a day that’s convenient for you.
2. Keep a schedule.
Write down how you spend each hour of your day to gauge whether or not you’re achieving proper work-life integration. By tracking what you’re doing, you’re able to go make changes in the future so you can properly integrate work into life, and not think of it so much as a boring chore.
3. Work with a purpose in mind.
Balance implies that work and personal life are two completely separate entities. We’re more connected now more than ever, and technology means that areas of our lives are intertwined. Work-life integration can be achieved by keeping a goal in mind: leading a happy, fulfilling life. Ensure your actions are meaningful in all areas. Decide when to work and work with a purpose, not just to log time.
4. Don’t try to compartmentalize.
The idea that work and life are separate is really an old idea. It made sense when everyone worked the traditional 9-to-5. Now, though, in the digital age when everyone is carrying their devices, the different aspects of life tend to overlap. The best strategy is to be flexible and accept that work may intrude on your free time. (The reverse is also true!)
5. Work in short bursts.
Try breaking up your workday by working in short bursts. For example, sit down with one achievable goal in mind and get it done in 30-45 minutes. After you finish that task, do something fun—go for a walk, hang out with your spouse, relax. Then repeat.
6. Truly love what you do.
If you want to have a fulfilling work-life integration, you need to fully love what you do—to wake up in the morning and experience the joy of knowing you are doing what you are meant to do. That passion and purpose will properly blend work and life.
7. Take advantage of your phone.
I never want to feel like I am tethered to my office. I love the feeling of being able to take my work with me wherever the day takes me. Invest in mobile technology and software that helps you be able to effectively work from anywhere and anytime.
8. Find your ideal work environment.
Not everybody works the same: Some people thrive on structure and in a team environment, like an office, while others find clarity and energy by working privately somewhere else. Would working from home help you focus more? What about while traveling? Find your preference and embrace it as much as you can. People work better when they’re happy.
9. Focus on productivity, not on time spent.
It doesn’t matter how many hours you spend a day working; what matters is how much you’ve accomplished by the end of it. The same can be said about time with friends and family—instead of thinking how much time you are spending on your personal life, focus on how to make that time more significant and meaningful.
10. Adjust your expectations.
Some people expect everything to be perfect: They’ll be able to get everything they need to get done in a timely manner and still have hours left in the day for their hobbies or passion projects. But if you want to achieve work-life integration, you need to adjust your expectations a bit. For example, be prepared for the days when you’ll need to spend more time on work and make up for it later.
11. Change your mindset.
The idea of work-life balance versus integration is a mental game you’ll want to start playing to avoid feeling stressed or overworked. Achieving true work-life integration takes practice that requires you to think about work in an entirely different way. You need to change your mindset and remember that work is a natural part of life and shouldn’t be looked down upon.
Photo by Dillon Shook on Unsplash