ACHIEVING a work-life balance is the new ideal for employees, because an imbalanced life results in stress and fatigue, loss of control and even strained relationships.

You may feel exhausted and resentful, and there seems to be so much to do yet so little time to attend to every single task on your “to-do” list.

Writer Martha McCarty labels this the “Centre of the Universe Syndrome”, which nicely sums up the “overwhelming sense that all responsibilities revolve around you and land on your shoulders”.

Organisations need to realise that the concept of work-life balance is not simply a mission statement on the corporate brochure.

There is a need to re-engineer work processes to accommodate both work and personal demands.

As an employee, you need to understand the impact an imbalanced lifestyle could have on you and your career.

Going off balance

What happens when work takes over your life?

1. You feel less fulfilled

When your life gets thrown off balance, you will start to have doubts about work and may find yourself asking if this is exactly the kind of life you want.

You also begin to overlook the positive aspects of work — such as the excitement from coping with challenges, forming friendships, self-esteem and self-worth — and subconsciously start to scrutinise the negative ones.

It is important for you to have equal enjoyment in the other aspects of your life to maintain a healthy equilibrium mentally, psychologically, socially and physically, or you may end up losing the joy of work.

2. You suffer from fatigue

When work begins to take priority over other aspects of your life, you take away time needed for you to rest and unwind.

Some common signs of worn-out employees include ill health, anxiety due to stress, migraines, insomnia, depression and even high blood pressure, which often lead to an increased need for sick leave.

As a result, productivity takes a dive as employees struggle to keep up by doing more to compensate for their downtime.

Eventually they will end up feeling even more stressed than ever, creating a ripple effect that spills over to their personal lives and relationships.

3. You have no time for anyone or anything else

You only have 24 hours in a day. Spending more time at work naturally means you will have less time with other people, particularly those who matter, such as family, friends and loved ones.

When you do not manage your work life sensibly, it can drain and cannibalise much of your energy, leaving you too exhausted to do anything else.

As the demands from work begin to eat away your leisure time, resentment and aversion start to build up.

Many people do not see as much of their children as they would like, or feel that their marriage or partnership has been damaged by work.

Over time, the quality of relationships with your loved ones will undoubtedly deteriorate.

Restore the balance

Long periods of continual multi-tasking often lead to stress, and can be extremely taxing to your physical and emotional health.

Here are some suggestions on how you can put back the balance in your work and your life:

1. Prioritise

Instead of trying to do everything at once and jumping back and forth from one task to another, learn to prioritise and work on the more important tasks first, spreading the rest of the work over a manageable timeline.

It is counter-productive to try and maintain a high level of activity at all times and expect good quality work to be produced from an overworked mind and body.

2. Recharge

Learn to make full use of the leave that you have.

Taking time off helps you recharge and gets you prepared for further challenges at work.

Lunchtime is the perfect time to get a mid-day break from work, yet many people end up working during their lunch hour.

The more you feel time-squeezed and weighed down by work, the more you should step away from your desk for an hour of stress-free lunch and enjoy the company of your friends or colleagues.

3. Explore flexible alternatives

It may not be easy to achieve a work-life balance these days, as people are constantly pushed to work faster to cope with an increasing workload.

Do not be discouraged though. There are little steps that can be taken to keep your life on the right track.

Even employers are beginning to recognise that an imbalanced lifestyle can ultimately affect one’s job satisfaction level, productivity and work performance.

The evidence for this is the rising implementation of work-life initiatives such as flexible work arrangements and family-friendly programmes.

The challenge is to take a pro-active stance and make some changes in your life before it is too late.