Multi-entrepreneur Elon Musk has famously claimed to have regularly worked 120+ work weeks. He recommends that business founders work 80+ workweeks in order to achieve success. American lifestyle guru Tim Ferriss on the other side, has advocated the 4-hour work week in order to free yourself from the shackles of corporate work and live the lifestyle of your dreams.
Listening to entrepreneurs and self-development gurus about the ideal work-life balance, it is safe to say that there are as many viewpoints as there are people. From working inhumanly hard to figuring out how to work as few hours as possible, or solely relying on passive income, we have heard it all.
The post pandemic world has created a new hybrid between remote and face-to-face work. The unprecedented lockdowns we have faced, inspired many self-employed professionals to pivot to a remote-only type of work. Many of them have been pushed away by micromanaging bosses who, panicked by the new reality, demanded daily video meetings, handed their employees to-do-lists that have to be ticked-off at the end of the day and installed software on employees’ laptops to monitor the time they spend in front of their computer screens.
This new reality has further complicated the way we blend our work with our personal life balance. This amalgamation of the personal and the professional in our lives has however started way before the Covid 19 pandemic.
Technology has given us the internet and smart phones. Both have changed our relationship with our employers, clients and colleagues. We are more available than ever and we are expected to be more available than ever. We speak with our colleagues and clients on WhatsApp, our personal Facebook profiles, in Facebook groups, on LinkedIn…
This has further eroded the ‘work-life’ barrier. It is not unusual to have a work-related conversation with someone in the evenings or on a Sunday. This also raises the question whether the ‘work-life’ distinction is relevant nowadays. If you are easily contactable, are expected to be easily contactable and enjoy what you do, does it really matter any more whether a particular activity belongs to ‘work’ or ‘personal life’?
Particularly as a solopreneur, freelancer or small business owner, there is an expectation that you bring some of your personal life into your work. It is no longer possible to get people to like and trust you, let alone know you, when you are hiding behind a faceless logo or corporate image.
Instead of concentrating on whether your work-life balance is optimal, it is much more helpful to decide what boundaries YOU want to set on your daily activities, whether they are personal or work related. You wouldn’t want your work colleagues to interrupt you when you are sleeping, when you are having a family meal or when you are on a city break with your family. But then again, would you want your friends to interrupt your sleep or sacred family time?
- When do you decide that it’s time to go to sleep?
- What is your ideal morning routine?
- When do you switch off your phone and social media?
- How do you react when people violate the rules you have set for yourself?
- How do you recharge your batteries or reclaim some ‘me-time’ after you have decided to devote weeks and months to work on a deadline or an important project?
- Do others know your boundaries?
These are the type of questions you should be asking yourself, rather than whether you have an optimal ‘work-life’ balance.