Work-life balance: how to really balance it out

Balancing private life and work is not always easy. What matters and what you can do.

Definition of work-life balance

The translation of the English terms is work (work), life (life) and balance (balance). The meaning can be quickly derived from the combination of the terms: The work-life balance aims to bring the areas of work and (private) life into balance. Why does it exist at all?

That is why the work-life balance is important

Stress, flexibilization and delimitation of work and lack of compatibility of family and work mean that we should deal with the right balance of the two areas of life. The term can be interpreted in such a way that work and life belong separately and that work is not a real “life” … But not everyone finds great fulfillment in their job – and that doesn’t have to be the case. Nonetheless, for most, work, whether self-employed or employed, is part of life. However, the boundaries between work and private life are becoming increasingly blurred…

  • …. be it through delimitation of work (e.g. because of home office or constant availability with smartphones) and/or …
  • … by (actual or self-made) Printwanting to give everything at work or having to do and be able to do everything.

This certainly does not apply to all employees. But in some professions or sectors in which companies z. For example, if there is a shortage of skilled workers, employees often work to their breaking point – it is so difficult to balance the two areas of life. Because not everything is always in our hands: Insufficient pay (e.g. not possible to work less), shift work and a bad compatibility of family and work make a balanced relationship difficult.

If the job takes up too much space, it can become a health hazard: Burnout is a syndrome in which those affected feel burnt out both physically and mentally. In the case of burnout, the cause is not always in the professional context, but can also have causes in private life. You can learn more about burnout here.

Divide work and life fairly?

The work-life balance does not imply a 50:50 split, but is an individual decision. For some, professional advancement is important, so they may put aside their private lives and give more space to the world of work. Others, on the other hand, put their focus on family, hobbies and/or volunteering and give up their jobs. Prioritization can also change over the course of life. If professional or family wishes are fulfilled, another area may gain in importance over time.

Work-life balance and company

Companies have now recognized that people care about their own work-life balance and offer various options for employees, such as:

  • Flexible working hours (flextime, working time accounts)
  • Part-time work/other working time models
  • Home office and mobile working
  • job sharing
  • Company health care (health offers such as sports courses or massage)
  • Self-management offers (e.g. time management)
  • childcare

Offers like these are intended to support a good work-life balance – from which employers also want to benefit, e.g. B. through motivated and healthy employees.

Like many things in life, some of these offers have advantages and disadvantages. That shows one DAK study, which surveyed employees who worked from home during the Corona crisis. The participants found the following advantages:

59 percent said they were more productive when working from home

  • 68 percent found it positive that there was no longer a commute and that there was more time
  • 77 percent had more time with their families thanks to the home office
  • A more flexible organization of the day estimated 65 percent of those surveyed
  • The proportion of those who felt stressed on a daily basis fell by 29 percent

The home office seems to make a major contribution to a balanced relationship, but in some cases it led to the opposite: every second person under 30 stated that they could no longer properly separate work and private life.

What to do?

How can the balance between the two worlds be achieved? Anyone who is absorbed in their professional activity and invests a lot of time should continue to pursue it – there is no reason to change that. The same applies to people who want more time with their families and want to reduce their working hours.

One There is no general answer to this question, professional activities and their requirements as well as family constellations, personal needs and wishes and life plans in general are too different. It is important to first find out where there is a problem, if there is a problem. Here are a few questions for guidance;

  • Does the job take up too much space? Why is that (too much overtime, too many tasks, …)? Can this be changed with a different working time model or with the right stress or time management?
  • Am I using my free time the way I want? If not, what is the reason and how can I change it?
  • What is unnecessarily draining my energy?
  • What do I contribute to the fact that the two areas of life are not balanced? Do professional and private appointments have the same priority for me – should they have that?

If you know where the stumbling blocks are, the second step is implementation – step by step.

Tips for a healthy work-life balance

  • If you often work overtime, ask why. If the workload is simply not manageable in your working hours, you can speak to your supervisor. Or try time management methods for yourself.
  • Would you like to take care of your family more? Perhaps it is possible to reduce working hours or make them more flexible.
  • Working longer does not necessarily mean being more productive! In the meantime, some companies are trying 5-hour days or a 4-day week and are finding that productivity does not suffer, but in some cases even increases!
  • Rest periods are important for regeneration. What they look like depends on the person. It can be relaxing with a book, but it can also be sports, making music or something else.

Pillar models for a happy life

Satisfaction in life does not necessarily result from the fact that things are going particularly well in one area of ​​life – and not at all in the rest. Maybe he is Look at the big picture a help to not only live your own work-life balance in a balanced way, but to harmonize your entire life.

There are already a number of balance models that want to have identified the important areas of life for a happy or contented life. The journalist and speaker Emily Smith sees four pillars for a successful life, which result from research results, literature and philosophy:

  1. belonging: Experience community with others
  2. determination: Finding a purpose in life
  3. stories: We develop our own identity through storytelling
  4. experience of a great whole: the I in connection with the big picture

(from: “Happiness alone makes no sense, The four pillars of a fulfilling life”, Goldmann Verlag, 2020)

The balance model according to Nossrat Peseschkian also contains four important areas:

  1. Social contacts
  2. health and body
  3. meaning and culture
  4. profession and performance

Some column models have four, others five or even seven columns. But they always go beyond the division of work and private life. This can help to identify what is important to you, what you would like to focus on or what you might still be missing in life. You can ask yourself questions about each area, such as:

  • Am I surrounded by people I can trust?
  • Do I see friends and family often enough?
  • What can I do for my physical and mental health?
  • Do I have enough time for myself?
  • Is there anything meaningful in life for me?
  • What is important to me?
  • What are my goals?
  • Am I happy in my job?

With the help of self-reflection, you can find out how you can bring your work-life balance or your life balance into the right balance for you.


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