We’ve all heard the phrase “work-life balance.” Now, a newer term, “work-life integration” is moving to the forefront.
Before 2020 sent us all home to work, many of us spent our days at an office, returned home in the evenings, and caught up on necessary tasks on the weekends. We were essentially living two separate lives—one dedicated to work and one dedicated to home. This lifestyle fits the traditional definition of work-life balance.
Now, with much of the workforce still working from home, work-life integration is something we can’t ignore. Now our increasingly interconnected lives demand that we figure out this “balance” thing for our own sanity—I could argue that, in the midst of work and home blending together, it’s more important than ever.
Keep reading for tips on how to create a healthy work-life integration.
Work-life integration creates a blend between your work life and your home life.
Balanced work-life integration can offer more flexibility to complete non-work-related tasks during the day.
When you imagine work-life balance, you probably think about strict divisions between your work life and your home life. Any intermixing could potentially throw off the “balance.” The problem with this is that everyone’s idea of balance is different.
Many people continue to work even after they’ve left the office. This could create problems in a person’s home life, including resentment from family members. One study from RescueTime outlines the problems with work-life balance, including the fact that 26% of work is done outside of typical work hours.
Healthy work-life integration provides a solution to the issues surrounding traditional work-life balance. Plus, it is likely a better and more realistic fit for many modern, working professionals.
The TEDx Talk below highlights the fallacies of a modern work-life balance and how work-life integration is a better fit for our connected world.
What is work-life integration?
While work-life balance is a separation of your personal and professional life, work-life integration creates more of a connection between the two. Here are some specific examples to give you a better idea.
Of these two columns, which lifestyle would you feel more comfortable with? Which version would give you more flexibility?
Many people and businesses have found that leaning into work-life integration is not only more realistic but also gives employees more power—and may even make them more productive. Each person can choose what works best for them instead of everyone following the same schedule.
Integration might look like bringing your dog to work instead of taking your dog for a walk during lunch. Or maybe it’s having the flexibility to leave work earlier while being available on-call compared to leaving at a strict time and shutting off work communication completely. No matter what it looks like, the goal is that your schedule fits your lifestyle.
How to create a work-life integration lifestyle
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of work-life integration is that it will look different for everyone. If you want to start incorporating this lifestyle into your workweek, here are a few tips.
1. What is your vision?
Ask yourself a few questions to help you decide what work-life integration approach is best for you.
What does the ideal week look like to you?
Will it reduce the stress you feel from work?
Will you have the flexibility you need to care for family members?
Will you have more time for self-care and creative projects?
Once you have your vision, you can approach your employer with specific ideas. If you thoughtfully prepare—and demonstrate how this schedule will benefit not only you but also your employer—you might be surprised at your boss’s receptiveness. And of course, this can be even easier to implement if you’re self-employed or currently work from home.
2. Create a weekly schedule
Many people feel restricted by the typical 8-hour workday. This is what makes work-life integration so appealing. You can create the weekly schedule that works best for both your personal and work-related tasks by dividing your time into more manageable chunks.
You should plan out as much of your schedule as you can. Make sure you schedule time for non-work related activities like working out, family dinners, and outings with friends.
Here’s a quick example of what an integrated schedule could look like:
6 AM – Wake up and get ready for the day
7 AM – Eat breakfast and help your kids get ready for school
8 AM – Start your workday
10 AM – Take a mid-morning break for a 30-minute workout
12PM – Take a break for lunch and run any errands you have
2 PM – Work for a couple more hours
4 PM – Take your kids to after school activities, help them with their homework, and start prepping for dinner
6 PM – Eat dinner with your family
7 PM – Catch up on work emails and then help your kids get ready for bed
9 PM – Finish any remaining work tasks and watch the latest episode of your favorite show
10 PM – Go to bed
The schedule may look a little different each day, and your schedule might get interrupted—don’t worry. That’s the beauty of work-life integration. It allows for the flexibility you need.
3. Maintain some boundaries
For some people, the idea of work-life integration sounds like abandoning all boundaries between your job and your personal life. While there are fewer boundaries, that doesn’t mean they no longer exist. In fact, it’s crucial to maintain some boundaries between your work and home life.
There are times when you need to completely unplug from all professional responsibilities to prevent burnout. You need to recharge by resting your body and mind. Schedule time to rest each week, and let your work know you will be unavailable for that time.
Try to stay committed to your work-free hours. If things have to shift, make up for the missed time later in the week so you have a chance to fully decompress.
At the same time, you may need to set aside a few interruption-free hours to focus on work. This may be especially true if you have young children, and you work from home.
Whatever the case may be, make sure you’re looking out for yourself by setting and maintaining necessary boundaries. That way, you’re able to balance time for work and time for rest.
Master your work-life integration with Vector Marketing
Integrating work and personal life is possible—hopefully this guide gave you a good place to start.
If your current job has you feeling tied down to a strict schedule, consider a more flexible opportunity like working with Vector Marketing. With Vector, you can work from home, make valuable connections, and develop business skills (that easily transfer to other careers). Best of all, you can set your own schedule for your ideal work-life integration.