How I finally achieved the elusive work-life balance

Here is my recipe after 11 years of living and breathing a corporate life.

 |  4-minute read |   09-10-2017
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It's quite often that we hear the term work-life balance. During the early stages of my career, I placed work-life balance low on my checklist defining a successful career. After all, how could a fresh out-of-college person talk about that. Was it not the time to build industry connect and take on more responsibilities?

As I progressed in my career, working 24X7 was burning me. The more I worked, the more I was left to do. Work seemed to be never ending. Sure, there was money coming. Sure there was growth in my titles. But I was feeling drained. So I again asked myself. Did I not need work-life balance? Did I not want time to switch off from work?

Little did I realise that a perfect work-life balance does not come from merely switching the work mode off after working 9 to 6. A perfect work-life balance is when work becomes so much fun that it becomes a defining factor of your identity.

In a day of 24 hours, where we spend almost seven hours sleeping, four hours doing other chores, two hours on internet and eight hours at work, surely work consumes a big chunk of our day. When we do not enjoy these eight hours at work, we feel disbalanced.

woman-body_100917023758.jpgReuters image for representational purpose.

As I began to realise this, my next question was how could I enjoy my work. Wasn’t work meant to be boring? Could one have fun while working? What defined fun at work? Here is my recipe that I realise now after 11 years (365 daysX10 hours) of living and breathing a corporate life.

People around us

The first and the foremost factor defining whether the workplace is stressful or fun is the people around us. If the people around us complement us and we can truly become a team, work is a lot of fun. Workplaces where too much time is spent focusing on handling people-related issues than actually solving problems can be really draining.

In our parent’s generation, people spent almost 40 years of their career at the same workplace. The strong bonds that they formed were priceless. Whereas, people of our generations tend to focus on money and title growth and make frequent switches.

As a result of this, there are not many avenues of such long-term relationships. People think of short-term ways of getting ahead without really bothering about building long-term relationships. Relationships have become transactional. Unfortunately, people also forget how the world is shrinking and paths crossing again happens.

In my corporate life, I have worked with people who are free riders, people who are micromanagers, people who love spoon-feeding, people who love playing politics, people who want instant results and many more. People who made me feel like not going to work and looking for definitions of work-life balance. It was only as I learnt to work with them, get the message across without breaking relationships that I truly began to love my work. And since then, there was no need to seek a work-life balance.

Liking the work more than the money

A lot of us remain stuck in jobs which do not interest us; simply because the jobs pay well or are giving us fancy titles. I did that too. It took me seven years to come out of my comfort zone to really take up a career to my liking. And trust me, it has been totally worth it for me. Liking the work has ensured I put my 100 per cent into it. Focused work of  "x"  hours is more productive than unfocussed "2x" hours. Money and title will eventually follow. Do not make them the end goal though, but by-products.

Own your work

The e-commerce sector in India experiences "a peak season" during Diwali. During those days, the customer helplines are overflooded. Be it my experience at Yatra.com or Paytm.com or more recently the Amazon, I take ownership of doing some of this work myself. Although it is not a part of my role, but I feel a sense of responsibility towards my customers. I have even done deliveries and experienced what it means to be a delivery person. The next time, I developed a feature to help the delivery man, I knew what the problem was.

Taking owninship of my work makes me work with a lot of interest rather than just taking it up as an employment. I almost feel like an entrepreneur in my own small world.

Following a hobby

Every day when I come home, there are always emails left behind. I can spend 24 hours replying them and yet not be done. I instead dedicate at least an hour every day to write, no matter how. Following a hobby keeps me engaged in life. And the happiness quotient keeps me motivated enough to do good at work instead of burning out.

As the world comes closer and people remain connected 24X7, work-life balance will turn more into work-life harmony. Failing on any of the above points can be detrimental to sailing through the corporate ladder without work-related stress and without calling it quits. 

Also read: I'm a scientist. I returned from US to find why India can't become a superpower

Writer

Disha Disha @dreamerdisha

The author is an IIM-Calcutta alumna and has over a decade of experience with companies like Paytm. She is currently a senior leader with Amazon India.

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