Engineers have free time

Paths to work-life balance

Always be available and hardly have any free time - no table football in the office helps. Many engineers feel that way too. Is work-life balance just a myth? No, but balancing your career and personal life is not always easy. Certain measures help.

The work-life balance is playing an increasingly important role - not just for women.

Photo: panthermedia.net/IgorTishenko

Content of the article:

  1. Company balance vs work-life blending
  2. 5 ways to achieve a work-life balance
  3. Recognize stressors
  4. Operational measures

First of all, it is important to clarify the term work-life balance. It comes from the English and is made up of "work" for work, "life" for life and "balance" for equilibrium. In terms of meaning, it is therefore important to bring work and life into balance. But that would mean that work and life are different things. Work is part of life. Only those who understand work as an integral part of their life and keep an eye on it together with other areas can achieve and maintain a real balance.

Because job stress can also be traced back to your own negative attitude towards work. If so, you should check whether you are under or overstrained in your job. Both of these lead to the fact that you have less fun at work and perceive it more as a burden than as pleasure and part of life.

In today's parlance, the work-life balance is understood to mean organizing one's career and private life in such a way that both are successful. There should be time for family and work alike. Both explanations hardly do justice to the complex requirements behind a good work-life balance.

Company work-life balance vs. work-life blending

The Federal Ministry for Family, Women, Seniors and Youth (BMFSFJ) has published an analysis on the subject of work-life balance and defines it as follows: “Work-life balance means a new, intelligent interlocking of work and private life against the background of a changed and dynamically changing work and living environment. Company work-life balance measures aim to enable successful professional biographies while taking private, social, cultural and health requirements into account. "

So it's about creating and maintaining space for the constantly changing demands in life. In recent years, the topic of work-life balance has steadily gained in importance. This is mainly due to the changed social development: The number of single parents, but also that of employed women and double career couples (so-called DINKS - double income, no kids) has increased. This inevitably leads to the question of a better compatibility between career and private life.

But especially people who work in responsible and / or high positions have difficulties in balancing their careers and private lives. Because responsibility means that they have to be available on a regular basis. Many engineers and computer scientists are also familiar with this. Instead of a work-life balance, work-life blending takes place much more frequently, i.e. a fusion of work and family.

That sounds tempting at first, but it is only possible through the strict separation of private life and work not to neglect either of the two permanently.

Which measures lead to a real work-life balance?

Finding an actual work-life balance is difficult. In terms of time alone, private life and work cannot be brought into balance, because the working day, including the way there and back, takes up a large part of our working day. The remaining hours are not only available for friends and free time, but also include obligations that have to be completed in the remaining time. For example housework, visits to the doctor, the tax return and the like.

Measures for a good work-life balance should therefore ensure that everyday life is as stress-free as possible. It is important to use your own time effectively and to create so-called time islands in which you can freely decide what to do. If you want to become more productive and balanced, you shouldn't look for constant balance, but instead look for your own rhythm. The following five measures are helpful in finding the work-life balance:

  1. Healthy sleep: Being rested is half the battle. Those who start the day well-rested are proven to be more resistant to stress. The calculation is simple. If the energy account is replenished through sleep, it takes longer before it slips into the red. Therefore, pay attention to a healthy sleep rhythm, that is, you regularly go to bed at the same times and you always get up at similar times. Your body will get used to the rhythm and will be able to refuel enough energy at night.
  2. Move: Sport is an important component of the work-life balance. Movement is a balance to the stressful professional life, especially if you sit in the office all day. Regular exercise not only has health benefits, it also strengthens the psyche. Exercise produces hormones such as endorphins and serotonin that neutralize stress hormones. If this does not happen, the stress hormones suppress the production of other hormones that are necessary for well-being. Find a sport that you can actually incorporate into your everyday life. Otherwise the appointment will become an unpleasant duty and you will achieve the opposite of work-life balance.
  3. Time management: Work at least eight hours, sleep eight hours - there are only eight hours left. If you deduct obligations, food and travel times, there is hardly any time left for fun and social life. So try to use your time effectively. For example, by integrating sport directly into your commute and cycling to work. Or you can use the break to cultivate friendships, for example over lunch.
  4. Targeted vacation planning: Even if it seems tempting to turn your back on work for four weeks at a time and take an extended vacation with your family - it's better to organize your vacation more specifically. Even a long vacation does not recharge the energy reserves for a whole year. It is better to plan an additional short trip or two and shorten the long summer or winter vacation by a week.
  5. Fixed appointments: What sounds counterproductive at first, because it could create a certain deadline pressure, is at least positive for social life. Make fixed dates with your friends. Plan out family activities together. Because anyone who lies on the sofa after work is reluctant to get up for spontaneous meetings.

 

What endangers the work-life balance?

Engineers and computer scientists are also familiar with it: if the work-life balance is out of balance, private life suffers faster than career. Because concessions are made in favor of the job rather than towards the family. After all, the job could be at stake. Putting your own career goals above private life is okay as long as the time frame is manageable. If an imbalance creeps in over the long term, countermeasures should be taken. The risk of imbalance can come from you as well as from your employer. Depending on the cause, various measures should be taken to bring the work-life balance back into balance.

The dangers that lie with the employed - employees as well as the self-employed - are based primarily on their own performance entitlement. Those who always want to do everything perfectly in their private life and career are putting themselves under pressure. If there is also poor time and self-management, this can also shake the work-life balance.

Further dangers are a strong pursuit of success as well as a great sense of obligation and responsibility towards family and colleagues. Anyone who believes that they are indispensable and that they have to get involved everywhere tends to be self-exploited, which simply no longer allows a healthy work-life balance. With all these difficulties, the measures mentioned above help to improve the work-life balance.

If the pressure comes from the employer, the employed person has no direct influence on a rapid improvement in the situation. Irregular working hours, constant deadline pressure, controversial distribution of tasks or lack of clarity about the scope of work in the coming weeks mean that employees are difficult to manage their time. Private life suffers as a result, but also work in the long run.

If the employee cannot change the situation even through improved time management of his own, and the employer does not show understanding for the situation or does not offer any support for the work-life balance of the employee, a change of job should be considered if necessary. Because there are many companies for whom it is important to offer their employees an attractive professional environment.

Operational measures for a better work-life balance

Nowadays employers have a great interest in contributing to the work-life balance of their employees with various measures. A pleasant working atmosphere and an open corporate culture make it possible for employees to reconcile career and family. At the same time, work-life balance measures ensure that the company's image is improved and that it remains competitive. Because those who offer something to their employees will be interesting for applicants. Various options come into consideration here. For example:

  1. flexible working hours (trust-based working hours)
  2. flexible working models (home office)
  3. Distribution of tasks and changes in workload (workloads can be reduced by distributing tasks)
  4. Reduce constant availability and limit it to core working hours
  5. Employee qualification (courses on self and stress management as well as time management)
  6. Child care, for example in the company kindergarten
  7. health Management
  8. healthy nutrition (nutritional advice, staff kitchen, canteen with corresponding offers)
  9. Company sports offers
  10. Leisure opportunities in the company premises (lounge, table tennis table, table football)

Employers benefit from a good work-life balance from better motivation of their employees and an emotional bond between the workforce and the company. This in turn promotes job satisfaction and improves performance.

 

Additional information:

A career counselor talks about work-life balance and recommends paying attention to the little moments of happiness.

Coping with stress - which exercises help in the short term and how they can counteract them sustainably
Burnout - when stress makes you sick: symptoms, treatment and employer obligations
Time out - how do you plan and how do you finance a sabbatical?
Vacation planning 2019 - this is how you can make efficient use of public holidays and long weekends

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