Overtime. Hustle culture. Burnout. If you live in a country that glorifies overworking like Singapore, those words are probably incredibly familiar with you by now.
For two consecutive years, Singapore has been ranked the second most overworked city in the world, based on an international study by Kisi. What’s more is that we also ranked 9th place from the bottom in 2020 for work-life balance among 50 other cities. Multiple factors such as the rising cost of living, increased competition in the workforce, and the fear of losing our jobs puts pressure on us to constantly perform well at work.
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However, we are not the only country that falls victim to this rigorous system. Other Asian nations like Japan, Taiwan and Korea are also among some of the most overworked countries as well.
To understand why this is especially prevalent in Asia, we have to examine the cultural factors that come into play. For instance, overtime in Japan is positively associated with occupational prestige whereas low-skilled workers in China work more overtime hours. Through this contrast, it is clear how this mindset came about and continued to be practised in the 21st century.
The culture of overworking is so prevalent in our society that we often associate our self-worth to our productivity. Anything that’s not contributing to the hustle is immediately seen as a waste of time.
Be that as it may, there’s been a significant shift in the way modern businesses and entrepreneurs are running their companies. In recent years, more businesses have implemented flexible working arrangements for their staff in order to promote work-life balance.
It is becoming more apparent to them that this imbalance can affect one’s productivity levels, quality of work, mental health, and workplace satisfaction.
If you still don’t know where to start in your journey towards work-life balance, we have prepared 12 different strategies that can help you achieve just that!
1. Work smarter, not harder
Have you ever heard the phrase “worker smarter, not harder”? Essentially, what this means is just because you are putting in a lot of effort and time into your tasks doesn’t mean you are completing them in the most efficient way.
Putting in long hours at work won’t necessarily make you successful instantly. Similarly, just because you don’t work long hours doesn’t mean you cannot thrive in your job.
Some examples of working smarter can be illustrated in these ways:
- Developing time management skills
- Ignoring low-priority tasks that can potentially distract you
- Using shortcuts on your keyboard to save time
- Downloading various tools or apps to boost your productivity
- Focusing on one thing at a time and avoid jumping from one task to another
- Setting realistic and attainable deadlines for your work
Even though there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone, there is still a plethora of ways to work smarter and more efficiently, which you can explore.
All you have to do is find out what works for you and stick to it!
2. Eliminate distractions during specific times of the work day
If you happen to work from home, you’ll find that this step is especially challenging for you. Unlike being in the office, working in the comfort of your own home is like being surrounded by endless distractions. There’s nothing more tempting than a good afternoon nap or even sneaking in a quick Netflix movie in the middle of work.
For those in the office, it could be checking your email or messages time and time again. While these minor things may seem harmless, it could potentially lead to decreased productivity altogether.
When it’s time to work, keep away from digital distractions such as answering non-urgent calls, texting friends, and endlessly scrolling through social media to avoid losing focus. For those working at home, have a designated workspace and refrain from doing your work on your bed or sofa.
3. Set daily goals in the form of a to-do list and stick to them
Some people are naturally gifted with the ability to create mental checklists of tasks they need to accomplish and stick to them. However, setting down your daily goals with pen and paper in the form of a to-do list can actually increase your productivity and motivate you throughout your day.
Before jumping right into things, take a few minutes and start writing down the immediate tasks you have to complete based on the level of priority and time taken to complete the job. Depending on your preference, you may choose to complete the work that takes the least amount of time to finish or perhaps the job that is needed more urgently.
For those who want to go digital and save paper, there are multiple applications that allow you to create to-do lists online. Some of these even have special features such as alarm and daily reminders.
This step not only organises your workflow for the entire day but also gives you a visual representation of what needs to be done, instead of having it all cooped up in your head.
Who knew something as simple as writing down your daily goals could be so effective?
4. Focus on one thing at a time
While it is important to stick to the list that you’ve made for yourself, focusing on one thing at a time is just as essential. Some people tend to get overwhelmed by lists simply by looking at the amount of work that needs to be done.
In order to counter this, concentrate on one task first and focus on doing it well. Setting short-term daily goals can help you obtain more achievable results in the long run.
Remember to take it one step at a time, give yourself a pat on the back for the tasks you’ve already done, and move on to the next.
5. Ask for help when you need it
Asking for help may not be something that comes naturally for us, especially at work. When we are determined to please and deliver in the workplace, it can feel uncomfortable to ask questions or make requests in fear that it may reflect negatively on us.
But believe it or not, your performance and development largely depend on your ability to ask for help as and when you need it. The more you withhold your burning questions, it’s more likely that you may not get the job done at all.
Remember that there is no shame in asking for help; everyone needs it. When you finally take that first step, you’ll be surprised to see how much people are actually willing to lend a hand.
6. Make your health a priority
Our health should be our utmost priority in life, even before our jobs. With hectic schedules and the hustle and bustle of the corporate world, it’s easy to neglect this important aspect.
Take simple steps to take care of the different facets of your health such as your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This can be in the form of eating healthy, going for a run in the morning, practising meditation and mindfulness, or taking mental breaks throughout the day.
On top of that, there is nothing worse than falling ill and having to take a day off from work just to recover. The cost of doctor’s consultations and medication can also be quite unforgiving at times.
Ensuring that your health is in tip-top condition not only saves you all the trouble, but can also save you a significant amount of money at the same time.
7. Unplug at the end of the work day
Raise your hand if you’re guilty of having checked your work emails while on holiday in the past (before the pandemic happened, of course).
When you find pockets of free time in your day after work hours, it’s easy and tempting to turn on your laptop and try to get some extra work done—just because. However, research has shown that if people are unable to disconnect themselves from their work and take the time to recuperate, this could lead to lower productivity, burnout, and other undesirable outcomes.
Being intentional about separating yourself from your work will certainly take practice, so be patient with yourself as you strive to get rid of this bad habit.
8. Establish firm boundaries and honour them
Because of COVID-19, remote working has become the new normal and has intensified the blurring of boundaries between work and personal life. We have now become easily accessible to anyone and everyone with just a click of a button.
The danger with this is that it may lead to individuals constantly being taken advantage of in the workplace because they have not created interpersonal boundaries with their co-workers.
We all want to get along with our employers and colleagues, but you should also know when to say “no”.
Start off with something as simple as not checking work emails on the weekends or strictly shutting down at 6 pm every day. Be firm with the personal boundaries that you set for yourself and don’t let anyone overstep them.
9. Make time for your hobbies, passions and relationships outside of work
Our jobs are undeniably one of the most integral aspects of our life. But it doesn’t mean that your whole life should revolve around it.
Think of it as a balance scale. You will only be able to achieve true work-life balance when the amount of effort you put into your job is equivalent to the time you make for yourself and loved ones outside of work.
If you have a knack for dancing or singing, or if you are running a side hustle, don’t let the responsibilities of your day job overshadow the things that you love doing.
Never lose sight of your hobbies and passions before you took on your job and always make time for the people that matter the most—your family and friends.
10. Take time off to rest, even if you don’t have plans to travel
Your off days are finally approaching but you have nowhere to go and have all the time in the world. Before you think about reaching for your laptop to check your work emails again, hold that thought.
There’s a reason why you’re on a day-off. It’s to give yourself a break and spend some time to rest, even if that means not having anywhere to be. You don’t always have to be doing something on days where you’re on leave.
In fact, it’s good to spend it just lounging at home sometimes.
Rediscover recess in your own time and by your own means; rest can mean anything you want it to be.
11. Prioritise self-care and schedule “me time”
In most Asian countries just like Singapore, practicing self-care in a society where hustle culture thrives is still considered to be relatively taboo.
However, there are more companies who are slowly introducing flexible working arrangements to encourage their employees to practice self-care and prioritise their mental health while working effectively.
Making time for yourself doesn’t just make you feel good, but it also improves your cognitive functions, ultimately increasing your productivity at work.
There’s no format for how self-care should look like. It could be anything from going on a pamper day at a spa, reading a book by the beach, or a just simple afternoon nap at home.
12. Develop a strong support system
Studies have shown that having a strong support system around you can increase your resilience against stress, boost your self-esteem, and improve your overall health and well-being—all of which are positive benefits that can help you perform better in your work responsibilities.
When the going gets tough, the people around you are the ones who will lift you up and stay by your side to encourage you.
Never underestimate the power of having company and a solid group of friends. So take the time and effort to forge new friendships and build them up to strengthen your support system if you have been neglecting it!
More Balance, More Savings
Maintaining a divide between your personal and professional life can benefit both yourself and those around you in ways you can’t begin to imagine.
As you work towards this new goal of achieving a work-life balance, why not add in another one to the list like saving more? Besides, it’s never too late for new year’s resolutions!
With our affordable plans, not only will you be saving the environment with carbon-neutral electricity, but you’ll also be bagging more savings that you can put towards that pottery class you’ve always wanted to go to, or perhaps a nice dinner with friends!
View our latest residential plans here and find the right one that matches your lifestyle needs.