The many technological tools of today have created new ways for people to collaborate and work virtually, from home, bringing with them alternatives to the traditional working schedule. According to the UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, work-life integration “is an approach that creates more synergies between all areas that define “life”: work, home/family, community, personal well-being, and health.”
Unlike the more familiar concept of work-life balance, this approach emphasizes the importance of pivoting throughout the day, rather than setting hard boundaries between work and life.
Someone will adhere to a work-life balance scheme to opt to work tirelessly for eight hours straight, and then take the rest of the day to relax and spend time with friends and family. Someone else who is going for a work-life integration approach, will, for example, choose to have breakfast with the family, drop the kids off to school, and go to work from 9 am until noon. They will then eat lunch and go to the gym, attend a meeting in the afternoon, and pick up the kids to go home and have dinner. Later, they will respond to some emails for a couple of hours before bed.
It is one scenario of applied work-life integration, but there are several others that you can implement in your daily life.
Plan your Week
Even if a work-life integration approach provides you with more flexibility throughout the day, approaching it haphazardly runs you the risk of procrastinating and not getting things done. Planning your activities is an essential element of work-life integration.
Know what things have priority, and plan the rest of the day around those events. Keep in mind that under a work-life integration schedule, you will need to prepare both your work and personal time carefully, as they are, more or less, intertwined.
Knowing When to Start and Stop
Having the flexibility that work-life integration offers, it can be easy to tip the balance in favor of one or the other. Technology has become an integral part of our lives, and with emails, Skype, and social media are a finger tap away. We may find ourselves answering work emails or chatting with friends way past the time we initially allotted for each. Flexibility should not give way to disorganization and should always be enforced by discipline.
Take Advantage of the Things near You
Changing from work to free time mode frequently means that there will be a lot of comings and goings. With this in mind, it’s best to shorten the time it takes to get from one place to another, so you don’t spend too much time in transit. Take advantage of the various facilities, like fitness, yoga, or other activities that are near to your office, so you won’t have to race across town continually.
Make Room for Self-Improvement
Even under a carefully planned work-life integration schedule, people can run the risk of getting into a rut. Like most other creatures out there, we humans are drawn to comfort, predictability, and routine. But too much monotony, even under this integrated approach, can eventually lead to a lack of motivation. Always be on the lookout for ways to improve yourself, be it professionally or personally, and find time to squeeze it into your schedule. Take a course in something, learn a foreign language, volunteer, etc.