Work Life Balance vs Work Life Integration

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Similar to the millions of people with demanding jobs, the inevitable end of the year exhaustion has hit you. Some relief might have come while looking at best odds and casino games but, at some point everyone needs a break right? Perhaps you are probably thinking, if you compartmentalize better, then you should be able to feel less exhausted as well as have some semblance of balance in your work and personal life.

Sorry to break it to you, but experts are challenging this idea that finding balance lies in the ability to compartmentalize and separate our work and personal lives. Rather, the right way to go about feeling at ease with our responsibilities is to find synergies between what we have to do for work and what we have to do in our personal lives.

The idea is that the moment we falsely think about work and personal life as belonging in separate boxes, a binary of opposition is created which instead of keeping our lives in a cycle that flows and is in flux, conflict and competition is created, making it harder to maintain the balance we are in pursuit of.

Work/Life integration is now being purported as the most effective approach because it brings work and life closer together and it reroutes our mindset away from pursuing an ideal balance between our work demands and personal lives. Here are a few of the tenets of the work/life integration approach and why it is regarded as being more beneficial –

1.     Mindset Shift

Work/life balance suggests that we should be able to rigidly separate our duties and activities into clearly defined time periods. The problem with this is that it is unrealistic. Work/life integration proposes that we move away from trying to attain this rigid ideal and discard the mindset that sees us holding on to a perception of intrusion, which can often lead to frustration. This means that when work obligations, for example, arise while dealing with a personal matter, avoid engaging it as an intrusion, instead make a decision to accept it as the current state of your day and carry on giving focus to what you assess as most important at that point in time.

2.     Less Compartmentalizing

Work/life integration requires a massive shift in our current work structure, no doubt, and for the most part, it will take more than just you or me to have it working as it ought to. But small changes are possible even as we can push for a bigger cultural change. Where work/life balance says group tasks into different rigid boxes and time periods, work/life integration suggests that it is okay to take 5 mins out to schedule that doctor’s appointment, instead of waiting until “after work hours”. Make small manageable changes and open your schedule to more flows and interactions.  

3.     Let Go of Guilt

We are by now very used to following the rigid work/life balance approach so changing gears to an approach that in many ways will see us deprioritizing the importance we commonly ascribe to particular tasks, e.g. work-related obligations, can come with its fair share of guilt. The work/life integration approach can be viewed as more democratic because it beseeches us to move through our day accounting for daily tasks as they come, a far cry from the approach that requires compulsory segmenting which is usually titled in favour of work related tasks.

Many people still swear by the work/life balance approach, and that’s fine but increasingly more people are looking for alternatives to how they can go about feeling a lot less pressured with daily obligations. The work/life integration might just be the right approach, and you won’t know until you try.