Maintaining work-life boundaries in a digital age: Some key points

Strategies to maintain work-life boundaries in a digital age(ianslife)
The internet has lessened the gaps and made the workplace smaller. Representational image: IANS

New Delhi: The lines separating personal and professional lives have become more hazy in the digital age. It has become difficult to disconnect from work and engage in personal life due to our constant connectivity and accessibility to everyone at any time.

The workplace has undergone a transformation, both for better and worse, due to the pandemic. The implementation of lockdowns and the shift to remote work revealed both positive and negative aspects of this transformation. On one hand, productivity soared as different work models and increased freedom empowered employees. On the other hand, it is crucial not to overlook the downside, as employees were often compelled to work beyond their designated hours. They became accessible even after work hours, blurring the boundaries between professional and personal life. This disruption breached the delicate balance that existed previously.

Unfortunately, despite these observations, the trend of working beyond set hours and the resulting low quality of work-life balance has persisted largely unchanged.

According to a recent study conducted by Arcadis, a consultancy based in Amsterdam, India has been ranked at the bottom in terms of work-life balance. Among 100 cities, New Delhi secured the 87th position, while Mumbai fared slightly better at 82nd.

As a consequence of the inadequate work-life balance, two issues can emerge:

Burnout: Employees may feel burnout because of overwork.

Poor Performance: Even with constant and round-the-clock work, employees may not be able to offer optimal performance in their tasks.

No Boundaries Lead to Chaos

The internet has lessened the gaps and made the workplace smaller. One can work from anywhere with a laptop and a stable internet connection.

Establishing boundaries within the workplace is essential to achieve a harmonious work-life balance. Instances such as being assigned weekend projects or receiving Sunday morning Zoom meeting requests from employers indicate a lack of clear boundaries regarding work. Sadly, the majority of workplaces do not enforce a strict log-off policy and allow employees to work excessively long hours without facing any consequences.

Navigating through the tricky challenges of maintaining boundaries in professional life is not easy, but certainly not impossible.

It is still not all gloom and doom for employees and employers.

Our work life is colourfully blended with short office breaks to late-night conference calls. We need to devise strategies to strike a balance between the job and personal life. Remember, finding the right balance requires ongoing effort and adjustments.

Create a boundary

Setting boundaries is crucial for a fulfilling life. Without them, people may assume that your time, work, and personal space are always accessible to them.

We often try to please our seniors and we give in. Do not fear saying 'no'. It is better to let people know that you may not be able to perform extra tasks post-working hours rather than overloading yourself.

In modern tech-driven workplaces, the utilisation of cloud-based platforms can assist employees in establishing work boundaries. These integrated platforms enable real-time updates of everyone's status, along with sending reminders for lunch breaks or short breaks, as well as indicating individuals' availability statuses.

Master the art of time management

Eisenhower's model is the ideal learning model for managing time. Begin with breaking down tasks into descending order. Start from high-priority jobs to non-essential tasks and act on them accordingly.

An effective approach to managing work within a specific timeframe is setting realistic goals and adhering to a real timeline, while actively avoiding procrastination. It is also important to refrain from over committing to minimise pressure and maintain a healthy work balance.

Prioritise self-care and growth

Since our childhood, we have been reminded of the proverb "Health is Wealth." It is imperative to take breaks from work, just as an empty car requires refuelling. Working tirelessly without respite is not sustainable.

One way to foster motivation for self-care is by investing in hobbies and passions. By dedicating time to activities we love, we are more inclined to prioritise personal time. Engaging in hobbies and practising relaxation techniques are essential for alleviating stress.

Taking care of oneself is crucial for both mental and physical well-being. It is not a selfish act but rather a means to reduce stress and foster personal growth. By recognising the importance of self-care, we can lead more balanced and fulfilling lives.

Learn to disconnect

Establish digital boundaries by consciously disconnecting from work-related devices during non-work hours.

Avoid checking work emails or responding to work-related messages outside of your designated work hours, unless it's an emergency. Give yourself permission to recharge and be fully present in your personal life.

Steer clear of overpromising and underdelivering

When we consistently overpromise at work, whether it's taking on too many projects or agreeing to tight deadlines, we put ourselves under immense pressure.

Instead, it is vital to assess our capabilities and workload realistically. By setting achievable goals and managing our time effectively, we can ensure that we're able to deliver on our commitments without sacrificing our well-being.

Accept your organisation's work culture

Employers sometimes expect employees to go above and beyond their regular duties, which can result in overwhelming workloads and burnout employees.

Certain companies value work-life balance and prioritise the well-being of their employees, while others may not consider it a priority.

If you find yourself in a workplace with a positive work culture, it can be beneficial for your productivity and overall satisfaction. However, if the work culture doesn't align with your values and priorities, it may be worth considering finding a job where you can invest your time and effort more happily.

In today's fast-paced and digital world, maintaining work-life boundaries is essential for personal well-being, productivity, and overall satisfaction. It is vital to regain control over your time, reduce stress and enjoy a fulfilling personal life alongside your professional life.    

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