A community experiment to hack work-life balance

Part of The Work Genome Project to understand and hack human potential at work.

The phrase work-life balance has assumed a new meaning in this post-pandemic world. One thing is clear, we all are trying our best to be happy, sane and productive. As things get back to normal, albeit a new normal, we felt it was time to get the conversation going with our community on what work-life balance meant and how to create it or hack it. We had to engage with our community to get the insights and answers we were looking for. We did just that:

  • We created a campaign called The work genome project on Instagram to understand what our community thought about strategies to create work-life balance.

  • We received 20 quality responses. We asked our expert panel to vote. 

  • We continued the conversation on Clubhouse to further understand and deep dive into each of those strategies.

  • Thanks to all the quantitative and qualitative feedback from our community, we then distilled the list to identify the top insights that are being featured here. 

We thank everybody in the community who pitched in to help us get to this place of insight and understanding. We also hope to productise certain key ideas into our product.

Here are the top strategies towards work-life balance from our awesome community:

Taking effective breaks

Draugiem Group conducted a fascinating study to understand workplace productivity. What we are realising based on the study is that employees who take frequent breaks are much more productive and happier. More specifically, the ideal work rhythm based on the study is 52 minutes of work time followed by a 17-minute break

According to Tamara Torres, a productivity coach par excellence, not all breaks are created equal. Non-screen time breaks are that much more rejuvenating than watching a youtube video or browsing through social media. 

Mindful breaks

Even better is to take breaks that really center us in the present moment. Tamara recommends using breathwork and mindfulness techniques to take breaks that will supercharge our focus and attention at work and beyond. Do check out some of the mindful breaks we have produced just for you on Soundcloud.

Nature breaks

In a study featured on Harvard Business Review, employees who spent time in nature reported being that much more productive and calmer. Gazing at nature during our workday also can significantly improve our attention control and wellbeing, according to the study. So let's take that walk in the neighbourhood garden or park to recharge our attention batteries.  

Pet breaks

Studies have shown that pet breaks can significantly help with work-life balance. According to The Human Animal Bond Research Institute, pets are responsible for saving their owners $11.37 billion on doctor visits. In this new paradigm of working from home, taking these furry breaks could be a blessing in disguise for our productivity and wellbeing. 

Schedule work with clear boundaries and stick to it

In a previous post on reclaiming attention, we talk about the importance of planning our day, both for work and pleasure. The same applies to creating our work-life balance. Scheduling our work to create clear compartments for work is key IMHO. And importantly, having the willpower and discipline to stick to the schedule. It is also important to schedule time for the non-work stuff as well, even entertainment for that matter. 

When we don't plan, we could easily get carried away with mind wandering, not knowing what to do. Research has shown that mind-wandering is tied to lower states of happiness, which cannot be fun. Having a structure for work and life is the answer here. We could use our favourite calendar here to help us stay honest with our schedule. The gentle nudges from our calendar are our friends here. 

Not to overthink about work before starting it

We have also noticed that there needs to be a certain separation between the planning state of mind and the executing state of mind. When we plan our work, we are dumping all our work-related worries and anxieties onto our planner. Our minds tend to be that much more relaxed. And when are executing, we keep the planning mind aside and focus on execution alone. 

Once we prioritise and plan, it is also important not to think of work before we start, until it's time to work and we turn into badass execution machines. This gives our mind space and energy to show up in other areas of our life. This separation is key to our work-life balance. 

Bringing our whole self to work

One of our experts Parshwa said - "Life is work and work is life when there is true passion". This is a bit counter to our previous strategy where we try to create clear compartments for work and life. But think about this, if we were to bring our whole selves to work and to our lives, without wearing different masks for the two, how liberating would that be? 

It takes a certain amount of vulnerability and humility to show up as our true selves in both work and life. Authenticity is key here. When we break that separation, work stops feeling like it's separate from life, they all blend into this stream of events that we are handling one event at a time, with complete authenticity and honesty. And more importantly, can we show up with complete presence? Do we have what it takes to let our guards down and show up authentically in all spheres of our lives? Let us give it a try :)

In a world where the poster child of productivity is someone like Elon Musk who stands for working our asses off, at the cost of potentially complete imbalance, we need to re-imagine what productivity really means for us. 

The onus is on us to share some of these insights with the world, to liberate the rest of us towards more balance and happiness in our lives. 

This sums up our top responses from the first campaign of The Work Genome Project. We are super pumped by the quality of the responses and we would like to keep the conversation going. Do follow us on Instagram and Clubhouse for more such discussions with our community. We would love for you to engage with us in these discussions as well. Look forward to picking your brain and discussing more such strategies.