Why Care About Work-Life Integration?
Work-Life integration recognizes that life is a mix of work and personal tasks that often overlap and intertwine. For example, an efficient work-life integration would be putting in a load of laundry while taking a break from your scheduled zoom meetings.
Why should you care about this? When you are able to FEEL that you’re staying ahead of the game as far as getting done what you need to (Note this doesn’t mean your to-do list is complete)…when you don’t feel like you’re on this constant treadmill, your nervous system relaxes.
Your health and well-being are optimized. You avoid burnout and negative reactions to stress, such as health crises, relationship breakdowns, addictive behaviors, feelings of low self-worth, etc.
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How Work-Life Integration Is Different From Work-Life Balance
Work-Life Integration blends work and home life, whereas Work-Life Balance strives to keep them separate. My bias is that work and home life naturally flow more harmoniously when they are integrated, not rigidly separated.
What is Balance after all? The common misconception is that balance is a formula that, once you have it, will lead you to happiness and success. But balance is different for everybody.
As long as your work and personal tasks are well integrated into your life, that’s all that matters. The only test for how well this is going is how you feel. Are you satisfied with your day-to-day life?
4 Strategies for Achieving Work-Life Integration
1. Identifying Priorities and Setting Boundaries
By setting priorities and then creating boundaries to uphold those priorities, you will feel more in control because you’ve created some structure in your life.
To set priorities, you have to know what you value. To discover what you truly value, look at how you show up in your life. Do you spend a lot of time with your spouse, kids, parents, friends or other family members?
Or do you hang out in front of the computer, phone, or TV a lot? I realize our jobs may require us to be in front of screens a lot, but when you’re not doing your job, are you closer friends to technology or to people?
Do you work more hours than you think you should? You’ll know this is true by how guilty you feel most days. Guilt is a great barometer for self-course correction.
Once you identify your true values by the results you’re actually experiencing, then you need to decide if you like your results, or if you want to change your behaviors to be in alignment with different priorities.
For example, let’s say you realize you’re not spending enough time with your teenage daughter, Maggie. She asks you frequently to hang out with her, and you’re always telling her, “Sure honey. I just need to get this one thing done first.” But by the time you get it done, it’s usually too late, and she needs to go to bed. Ugh. Guilt sets in.
You decide you want to shift your priority and spend more quality time with Maggie. The boundary you put in place is to take every Thursday evening and take her to a movie, out to eat, bowling, or whatever she wants to do.
Clarity breeds action, and aligned action with your heart-based values just feels good.
TIP: Identify one area of your life that you feel guilty about and want to change. What boundary can you set to course correct your habits?
2. The Role of Technology in Achieving Work-Life Integration
Technology can certainly be our friend. The goal of technology is to give us a better quality of life by eliminating the time, effort or tediousness it takes to perform a task. And I’m not just talking about electronics. It is any task designed to ease the pain of life.
Building a fire was one of the first examples of technology. Agriculture was another. Think using a washing machine over cleaning clothes by hand as they used to.
Electronic technology, like cell phones and computers, help us stay connected. The speed with which we communicate and know what’s happening around the world is instantaneous.
However, there are downsides to electronic technology that interfere with healthy connection. We have forgotten how to relate to each other.
- We are addicted to being on our phones, watching videos and TV.
- Our nervous systems stay revved up because we feel perpetually on the hook to reply to emails, texts, social media messages, etc.
- Gossip spreads fast and can really harm people.
TIP: Take an honest look at technology. Is it your friend or foe? Addictions are hard to break because they feel good in the moment. Perhaps you could set a boundary and restrict your leisure time in front of screens. Just an idea.
3. Managing Time and Staying Organized
Time management is emotional management, and emotional management is energy management. For example if you wake up in the morning and want to pull the covers over your head, because you feel sad and unmotivated, you don’t have the energy to tackle complex business issues that require your creativity, or the patience to work with people who feel as downtrodden as you, etc.
TIP: If you want to manage your time better, hire an energy coach to help you get to the root of your energy imbalance, your feelings of inadequacy and insecurity (which we all have to an extent).
I also suggest tapping using EFT, which works wonders. Yet that alone may not do the trick, because we all have blind spots where another person could really help us move forward more quickly.
4. Delegating Tasks and Seeking Support
Many of us women like to be in control because it makes us feel more safe. You may think that by the time you teach someone else how to do something, you could have done it yourself, AND done it better.
But this mindset will keep you forever buried in tasks, rather than connecting with people. If you want to be a loner, then OK. So be it. But if you’re wanting more work-life integration, then consider delegating and getting support.
TIP: What is one thing you’d like to get off of your plate because you really despise doing it? Get creative and ask the Universe, “How can I offload this task?”