A Jugglers nightmare: Life, Love and Labor

A young talented corporate lawyer spends long evenings at the office to prove herself to the company. The same passion that drove her to get her degree is also driving her to put in the extra hours required in order for her to break through and make a partner.

Office managers increasingly now work weekends just to keep on top of all the paperwork that they hadn’t been able to attend to during the week. In almost any profession, the story is the same. Even non-management staff are working extra hours or are constantly at their blackberries pushing business deals 24/7.

It’s seen as heroic and character-defining to give 110% at work no matter what.

Busy is the new normal. The line between work and family life is blurrier than it’s ever been. Thanks to technology, work is taking over more and more of our lives, but where does this leave us on the social front? What are the demands of work doing to our lives at home and with our social networks?

In today’s competitive business environment, employees seek jobs that not only offer financial security but also provide autonomy, meaning and the opportunity for advancement. Millennials (those born between the years 1981 and 2000), who are just joining the workplace have new attitudes to work with high expectations of pleasant work environments, diversity and the elusive corporate lifestyle. While many of these expectations are farfetched, it does show that the present workforce has a different expectation set from previous generations. Companies such as MTN, Vision Group, Nile Breweries, and Stanbic, are sought after, not only because they offer a comparatively high remuneration package, but also because they have a reputation for investing in their employee’s welfare. People are now voting with their feet, applying in droves to companies where they perceive they will obtain a clear return on their investment of energies with a rewarding career that feeds back into their personal lives. It’s easy then to condemn this as an attitude of entitlement, especially given the current economic conditions worldwide. But a much more productive way to look at it is to realize that with the increased stress and demands placed on workers in this age, it is important for companies to provide an environment that reduces stress. It’s also important for individuals to assess their own needs and work to balance their lives before they burn out or cause harm to their out of office relationships and affect their careers negatively. Not everyone can work in their ideal work environment but there are some steps that can be taken to sustain both work and life outside of work.

Managing work expectations
Establishing clear objectives in line with what management expects of you and working to meet them way before the deadline. Working efficiently and aiming to assign priorities helps in the management of expectations at work while also allowing room for time to socialize. Going above and beyond expectations is admirable, but one should also know their limitations and respect them before they begin to reap diminishing returns

Utilize Workplace programs
Most workplaces have routine retreats to re-energize and strengthen teams. Instead of viewing this as work, take advantage of the time away to socialize with other workers, play some sports and get your mind off the demands of work for a few hours. The HR department can also help provide you with programs designed to help cope with stress at work.

Schedule vacation time with family schedules in mind

It’s important also to schedule leave time from work to coincide with the time when you can be with your family, say when children are out of school, or when demands on a spouse’s schedule are fewer. This allows you to have quality time which is good for the whole family

Try something new
Many tasks can become routine as you settle into systems and ways of approaching things. A nice way to stay sharp is to go to new places and be adventurous. Try the new bungee jumping at the Source of the Nile, or take a class in musical instrumentation at Kampala Music School. Something new to accompany work at a high level always acts as a great way of reducing stress built up from the day-to-day grind.

It’s still socially embarrassing to admit that you see a therapist in Uganda, but this stigma is totally unfounded. And more and more is being eaten away. According to research from the University of Albany, New York, changes in technology and social mores like the move of women into the workforce have disrupted the work-life equation. People need help coping with these changes and usually require the aid of a professional therapist to work their feelings of being overwhelmed or finding that their expectations are not being met. This is especially important with married couples that are both fully employed. Most of all, communication with friends and family and even with people at work about how to best get a handle on things will serve to ensure that you’re getting the support you need. Even as the pressures of work increase, you can still be well rounded and give your best because you’re able to balance anything that gets thrown your way

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