By Julie Goh
Misconceptions about work-life balance are very common, especially by employers. Often, employers see this as a luxury, or that employees who want work-life balance are not committed to their jobs. This thinking leads to employers expecting employees to be available and “on-call” all the time, and not considering their personal time.
Similarly, employees too have misconceptions about the concept of work-life balance. Many think it is all about spending equal time for both.
Let’s look at some of the common misconceptions about work-life balance, which can lead to unrealistic expectations and frustration for those trying to achieve a balanced lifestyle and for their employers.
- Equal Time Allocation: One of the most common misconceptions is that work-life balance means spending an equal amount of time on work and personal life. In reality, work-life balance is more about finding a harmony that works for your individual circumstances, which may involve giving more attention to certain areas at different times.
- Work-Life Separation: Some people believe that work-life balance means completely separating work and personal life. However, with technology and remote work, strict separation is often not practical. Instead, work-life balance should focus on managing boundaries and being present in the moment, whether at work or in personal life.
- It's a Destination: Some individuals view work-life balance as a goal to achieve and then maintain. In truth, work-life balance is an ongoing process that requires constant adjustments as circumstances change.
- Always Being Available: Some employees feel the need to be constantly available and responsive to work-related matters, even during personal time. This can lead to burnout and a lack of true balance.
- Time Management Fix-All: While time management is essential, it's not the only factor in achieving work-life balance. Other aspects, such as setting boundaries, managing priorities, and self-care, also play crucial roles.
- It's Only for Parents: Work-life balance is often associated with parents trying to balance work and family responsibilities. However, it is relevant to everyone, regardless of parental status, as it involves managing work and personal commitments for overall well-being.
- Lack of Work-Life Balance is a Personal Failure: Sometimes, individuals blame themselves for not achieving work-life balance, thinking they are inadequate or incapable. In reality, achieving balance can be challenging due to external factors like workplace culture and demands.
- Work-Life Balance is Static: Work-life balance needs can change over time due to life events, career changes, or personal growth. It's essential to be flexible and adapt to new circumstances.
- It's Only About Reducing Work Hours: Work-life balance is not solely about reducing work hours. It's about being efficient and effective during work hours while ensuring time for personal well-being outside of work.
To achieve a realistic work-life balance, it's crucial to recognise and challenge these misconceptions. Every individual's definition of balance will vary, and finding what works for you is key. It involves setting priorities, establishing boundaries, and being mindful of personal and professional well-being.