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Set boundaries for work-life integration

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Bryan Robinson :
The new buzz phrase, "work-life integration," has been batted around by major corporations - eschewing the term "work-life balance," considered to be a dinosaur of the 1990s. But what does that mean? Is big business suggesting that you continue working 24/7 during your personal time so they can get a bigger bang for their buck? Has balance become a corporate dirty word? Or is it a matter of semantics?
The term "work-life integration" is a slippery slope because it implies a blurring of lines. If you duck out at family dinners when your phone pings, wear your Bluetooth headset while playing catch with your son, or answer e-mails during your daughter's soccer game, you're not integrating; you're working at the expense of your personal life - possibly workaholically. In all these scenarios, you blur your boundaries and miss out on the true spirit of being with the ones you love. And when you're not fully engaged, you send the message that your job is more important.
If you're seeking work-life integration, you must have boundaries and a certain degree of mindfulness. Feel free to bring balance into the 21st century with the phrase, "work-life integration" as long as your goal is mindful presence and full engagement with whatever you're doing in each moment .
Compute work-life integration score
To discover your work-life integration score, rate yourself on the following habits using the scale of 1: Never True; 2: Sometimes True; 3: Often True; 4: Always True. Then tally the total.
· I seem to be in survival mode, always racing against deadlines.
· I stay busy with many irons in the fire during family activities.
· I engage in two or three tasks at once such as eating lunch, answering e-mails and talking on phone.
· I over-commit to work requests by biting off more than I can chew.
· I feel guilty when I'm not working, even when with loved ones.
· I continue to work after coworkers have called it quits.
· It's hard for me to relax and unplug when I'm not working.
· I find myself working instead of socialising with friends or enjoying hobbies and family activities.
Now calculate your score.
8 to 16: Green light. Congrats: You're a chill master of work-life integration.
17-24: Yellow light. Caution: Work is starting to take over. Consider my tips below to find more balance.
25-32: Red Alert. Whoa! You're steamrolling toward job burnout with a double-barrel stress level. Others get a busy signal when they try to connect with you. Definitely use my tips below to unplug and consider a support group such as Workaholics Anonymous.
Work-life integration tips
Slow down: Even the fast lane has a speed limit. Think of yourself as a human being instead of a human doer and make a conscious effort to unplug and recharge. It's counterintuitive, but true; plodding puts you at the finish line in time, plus you get to enjoy life instead of rushing through it.
Practice self-care: The trifecta of health is good nutrition, ample rest, and regular exercise. This holy grail of physical and mental health also includes how you talk to yourself inside. In the face of obstacles, be on your own side with pep talks, and self-compassion.
Manage your schedule: Be master, instead of slave, to your work and prioritise job and personal tasks. Focus first on work projects or family responsibilities that require immediate attention. Don't let your schedule call the shots.
Learn to say no: Draw the line when someone asks you to do something you don't have time for. When you say yes but mean no, you're not taking good care of mental and physical health.
Share the load: Don't require yourself to do everything. Learn to ask for help when you need it. Delegating tasks is a sign of a confident, integrated worker. If possible, hire outside help for household chores or job assistance. Not only will you have more energy at work, but you'll also have more personal time.
Simplify your life: Setting aside just 15 or 20 minutes a day for yourself can make a difference in lowering stress and raising your energy level. Indulge yourself with a nap, massage, or manicure.
Avoid multitasking: Studies show that multitasking isn't what it's cracked up to be and in fact that it takes longer to go from one task to the next because of the added time to refresh your memory of each task.
Come up for air: Put time cushions between writing tasks and appointments. Your body isn't designed to be desk bound for long periods of time. Take time to breathe, go to the bathroom, or just look out the window.
Tune out your inner critic: Instead of attacking yourself, give yourself pep talks when defeat hits home.
Set boundaries: Scrub making yourself accessible to work 24 hours a day and avoid working during personal times with family and friends. Protect your personal domain from electronic leashes and know when to turn them off.
(Bryan Robinson is an author and Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, US. Courtesy: Psychology Today)

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