Being successful in work and having fun is hard to juggle.
How can you work hard but enjoy the journey?
How can you graft working long hours but still be having fun?
A work-life balance evokes a binary opposition between work and life. But why separate these?
A Work-Life Integration is an approach that creates more synergies between all areas that define “life” from work, home, family time, community, personal well-being, and health. You can create the best work-life balance by integrating these together.
If, like in a work-life balance, you make firm boundaries between your work, health, relationships or making time for yourself you will inevitably fail as not have the time to juggle everything.
Work-life integration seeks to bring your work and personal life closer together.
Take proper care of yourself by embracing work-life integration.
I Treat Work as My Hobby
Why would you constrict yourself to a rigid work-life timetable when life is anything but rigid? You have it within your power to make your working life work with you, not against you.
The whole concept of a work-life balance is a relic from a bygone era, the transition to support work-life integration is inevitable.
I never work. Work is integrated into my life but it’s a hobby and interest of mine that earns me money!
Your personal and professional lives don’t have to be distinct from each other, in fact, you will find many benefits to merging your professional and personal lives. Both work and your personal life endeavours are important, you shouldn’t have to pick and choose.
A work-life integration banishes this idea of having to strike a fine balance of fitting my personal life around my working life.
To some, this means I have unusual working hours and always seem to be working, but nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s true that I don’t work 9-5, I work when I need to, so the hours that I work may seem unconventional to society, but work-life integration lets me pick my work hours.
If you genuinely celebrate Fridays and hate Mondays, you need to rethink your entire fucking mindset. Your work life shouldn’t fill you with dread, your work life and your personal life should be filled with stuff you enjoy.
While others are asleep I am working. But conversely, while others are tied to a desk or stuck in rush hour traffic, I am in a tropical location with my laptop.
Let me be clear, this is not a boast. It is simply to help you realise that not only is work-life integration possible, but it can work for you.
You can enjoy your work life and personal life at the same time, it really is that simple.
I have no doubt that wherever you work you put in a solid day’s graft, so why not put those energies into making your timetable work for you instead of for someone else’s benefit?
Think of it this way; Your boss comes to you and says, “Instead of fighting with traffic and coming to the office for your 9-5 shift, go on holiday with your family. The only prerequisite is that you have to work for a few hours each day.
This can be done anywhere you like. As long as the work gets done, you can literally work anywhere and the rest of the time is yours to do as you please.”
What would your response be? You’d say yes, wouldn’t you?
Most people would jump at the opportunity to pick their work-life hours, spend more time with loved ones and schedule work to a time that suits their personal lives.
Work-life integration is the way forward in our 24-hour society. The only thing stopping you is you.
Define Work-Life Integration
I wanted to write this blog to answer the question that I get asked the most often; “Why do you work on a holiday?” My response is and always will be; “Why not?”
Let me explain that. I love my job because it allows me to travel. Being a digital nomad gives me the luxury of working wherever I want, whenever I want.
As long as I have my trusty laptop and an internet connection I can work anywhere in the world that I like. I can attend any conference call or meeting wherever I am. I work on my own time clock and answer to no one other than my own conscience.
I can enjoy both work and personal activities in my day. I don’t need to miss out on anything with work-life integration.
Working on holiday to me is a way to experience new cultures and embrace different ways of thinking. I also find that the relaxed state of mind that I experience while on holiday ultimately improves my productivity and keeps me eager to strive for better things for me personally and for my company.
Work-life integration encourages self-care as the lack-thereof of a work-life balance can leave more time to find a schedule that works for you.
That’s why I work on my holidays. By putting in those extra few hours with a relaxed mind it is, in effect, paying for my next adventure. Work a 9-5 job and you’ll be lucky to get 30 days of holiday a year including bank holidays IF you can get the days off that you actually want.
Benefits of Work-Life Integration
Here are just a couple of benefits of a work-life integration:
- It’s more realistic – creating a distinction between work and home isn’t always achievable.
- Creates a new outlook on work-life – mixing your work-life into your personal life can make your day more enjoyable, you won’t be counting the hours until you leave work.
- Helps you prioritise – having an adjustable schedule lets you manage your tasks in a way that suits your unique day.
- The work-life integration model is much more flexible – It allows you to take more holidays a year and spend valuable time making memories with your friends and family.
- Allows you to work wherever and whenever – provided you have access to all necessary resources for your job, you could work anywhere in the world.
When I work on holiday it’s very much a home-from-home experience; I choose the hours I work, I choose the venue, I choose whether to take conference calls and emails or not, I fit it around the day’s events.
This is the life that my business allows me to indulge in. It’s what I would define as work-life integration as opposed to work-life balance.
It doesn’t only apply to work on holiday either. At home in everyday life, I can structure meetings around personal appointments without the hassle of it intruding on my work schedule.
My work-life fits around everything else rather than everything else fitting around my work life.
What’s the difference between Work-Life Balance and Work-Life Integration?
Work-life balance focuses on finding the right balance by which your work life and personal life successfully develop separately, work-life integration focuses on merging your work life and personal life until they are inextricably linked.
Here are some examples to help understand the difference:
- Work-life balance is walking your dogs on your lunch break, work-life integration is bringing your dogs with you to work.
- Work-life balance is taking it in turns with your partner to pick up the children from school to suit both work schedules, work-life integration is picking up the children and finishing work when you get home.
- Work-life balance is working 9-5 around the clock until you cash in your holiday days, work-life integration is taking your laptop on holidays and getting work done abroad.
I’d like to put the whole work-life balance vs work-life integration into perspective. I don’t wake up in the morning and hop on a plane to a new location every day; it’s impractical and unrealistic.
For all the times that I work when I’m on holiday, there are many more hours of late nights. I work damn hard to be able to sustain the work-life integration that I have.
Work-Life Balance Vs. Work-Life Integration
To me, a work-life balance is archaic. There are so many demands on our time that trying to structure a life around work seems like a daunting task. A ‘regular’ work-life balance may go something like this;
- Wake up and get ready for work
- Get the kids ready for school
- Drop the children off at breakfast club because you have to be at work for 9.00 a.m
- Fight with rush hour traffic
- Work hard until you get half an hour at lunch
- Clock off at 5.30 p.m
- Fight with rush hour traffic to pick up the children from the after-school club because, thanks to your job, you weren’t able to collect them when school finished.
- Cook an evening meal.
- Make sure the kids are showered and in bed for a reasonable time which means you have about an hour of quality time with them.
- Repeat Monday through Friday
- Spend your two days off trying to cram in everything that you didn’t have time to do during the week.
- Back to step one and repeat endlessly.
When you break it down like that it seems like utter madness, doesn’t it? Now, think of the same scenario but using the work-life integration method;
- Get the kids ready for school
- Drop them off when it is time for them to go in, not early because you have to be at the office at 9.00 a.m
- Begin work – this can be done anywhere because all you need is a laptop and an internet connection.
- Have your lunch break whenever you like and for however long you like – maybe even incorporate it into a meeting with clients.
- Collect the children from school at the end of the school day because you can.
- Spend quality time with and pay attention to your family.
- Once the little ones are in bed, start work again for a few more working hours
- The weekend is your own because you’ve still managed to get through your workload during the week.
Of course, this is just one example. The main point of work-life integration though is that it allows you flexibility.
Going back to the holiday’s situation for a moment, here are two scenarios:
- Work-Life Balance – Work 9-5 and spend all year looking forward to two weeks away. However, you work so hard trying to achieve it that you can’t actually unwind while you are there, then spend the last few days dreading going back to work.
- Work-Life integration – Work as hard as you do in a 9-5 job but work the hours that suit you. Go on holiday more often, spend more time with your family and have to work for a few hours each day on the job you love while you’re there.
Which would you rather do?
By making your work a part of your life as opposed to structuring your life around work, you maximise your own potential and create the opportunity to have a more fulfilling life.
How to Achieve Work-Life Integration
Once they understand exactly what and why I work as I do, the next question people often ask me is how to achieve this work-life integration.
Where I excel is my ridiculous sickening work ethic. I was brought up with the notion of grafting instilled into me. I always put 110% into whatever I’m doing.
It’s an old cliché that if you choose a job that you love then you’ll never work a day in your life, but it’s completely true.
You have to prioritise but not in a way that you are used to. Your work life is vitally important in being able to sustain a work-life integration and you must make time for it but not at the expense of having a personal life.
The greatest advantage of work-life integration is flexibility. You can switch your working day around to incorporate things like school plays etc. but you MUST be disciplined enough to do the work later.
It is naive to think that your work life and your personal life will not overlap, so why not find a work-life integration that allows you to pay attention to the things you love most, like your well-being, family, holidays, while still allowing you to be productive in your work?
Why work-life integration is not a perfect solution
Work-life integration is related to work-life balance, but they are not the same thing.
It’s important to remember this as it’s possible to become so obsessed with your endless list of things to do, that you might fall into the trap of filling all your personal time with work but failing to give the same level of attention to your well-being, family and relationships.
You have to be careful to integrate your life into your workday, as much as you integrate work into your personal life.
It tends to be that work priorities seem more urgent than aspects of your personal lives, like spending time with your family.
So, you have to pay attention to how you are splitting your time, as the beauty of work-life integration is you can mould your work life to fit your personal life. Not the other way around.
Tips for Work-Life Integration
Here are a few tips that I can give you if you want work-life integration to work for you. Many of them are common sense, but some of them may surprise you;
Know When to Say No
It might sound odd to me telling you to turn work down, but knowing when and how to say no will prove more productive over time.
It makes more sense to have ten jobs, do them well and get more work from those clients as a result than to have twenty jobs, struggle to finish them and not give them your full attention? Pick your fights!
Remember to Delegate
This is probably the most important tip that I can give to you. By delegating tasks that you feel comfortable letting others handle, you free up time to work ON the business, not FOR the business.
Your staff are there because you trust them; lean on their strengths so you can devote more of your time to growing and nurturing the business itself.
Only Work with People You Like
Is there anything worse than having to spend eight hours a day with someone that you don’t like?
By only working with people that you like you create a positive atmosphere, which in turn becomes a more productive atmosphere. Even better, you get to celebrate your successes with those people too. It’s a no-brainer, really.
Professional and personal lives integrate naturally more than you think, so make sure you surround yourself with people who are striving for the same goals as you.
Integrate Exercise into Your Work-life
It’s clinically proven that exercise is good not only for the body but for the mind too.
By integrating exercise into your working day you release endorphins that clear your mind, leaving you refreshed for the rest of the working day.
Also, we only get one body – it makes sense to look after it and focus on your physical health and mental well-being.
Work-life integration isn’t just about chilling out doing nothing, it’s about allowing you to enjoy your personal lives without having to compromise on your work-life.
Socialise with Clients and Suppliers
‘No man is an island’ and business is nothing without their clients and suppliers. They are integral to your business and a good working relationship goes a long way. So, rather than treating them as a faceless business, socialise with clients and suppliers and treat them to a burger and chips instead!
This is another way to support work-life integration, as building solid relationships is a crucial part of your work life and your personal life.
Network and Adapt Mindset 1+1=3
Networking, especially in SEO, is utterly essential. I didn’t get where I am today by closing myself off from my peers or discounting other opinions.
By networking and adapting your mindset to a different way of working, sometimes 1+1=3 after all.
Focus on Productivity, Not Hours
This goes back to me working seemingly unusual hours. It doesn’t matter to me if I work 40 hours a week or 60 hours a week as long as I am seeing the productivity from that time. It will balance itself out in the long run, especially when I’m on holiday.
By focusing on productivity, not hours, I am safeguarding the future of my company, my employees, and my ability to maintain a work-life integration.
Break Up Your Day to Achieve Flow State
We’ve all been in a situation where we feel like we’re beating a dead horse. Try as we might we just can’t get going. If you are in a situation where you have a work-life balance, you just have to suck it up and get on with it.
If you have work-life integration, however, then you are able to break up your day to achieve a flow state. You can step over the dead horse and carry on being productive.
If You Enjoy What You Do, There’s No Reason to Draw Strict Lines
Hopefully, this blog has given you some food for thought. For a work-life integration to succeed you will need masses of self-determination and iron willpower, but the rewards that it reaps are more than worth it. If you enjoy what you do, there’s no reason to draw strict lines for your work or your personal life.
Successful integration of the two gives you a sense of achievement and allows you to live the life that you previously only dreamed of.
Just take a look at any of the photos on this page and you will realise that what I say is not only the truth, but it could so easily be you in those photos, it could be your life too.
See what you can do today to transform your working life from being chained to the clock, to one of personal freedom and fulfilment.
How do you separate your personal and work life?
Here are several ways you can do to keep personal and professional life separate:
- Overcome procrastination at work
- Know how to focus and get into a flow state of mind
- Keep personal issues at home
- Have a physical office to work from
What is a healthy work life and personal life integration?
Healthy personal and work life are meeting deadlines and goals at work while having time for friends, family, hobbies and having enough time to eat healthily and sleep well.
Not worrying and being stressed about work at home is very important. If your at-home life balance is good you will work harder and therefore your work life will be good.
Work-life integration seeks to unify work and personal life.
Managing a schedule that is good for your organisation and also family commitments is where integrating the two support each other.
It’s time to prioritise both work and personal commitments in a way that suits you.
In other words, you need to link different aspects of your life, integrating work and personal time, to create work and life integration.
Work-life integration helps you concentrate on your personal time, allowing you to make more space in your life to do the things you love.
I strongly support work-life integration because the unification between the two saves you time and one thing in life any of us do not have enough of is time.
I’m a full-blown Search Engine Optimization specialist earning the majority of my income from SEO-focused endeavours, including affiliate marketing, lead generation, as well as SEO services. Love travelling the world networking while working on my laptop. Life is a perception of your own reality. You have no excuses and should be making memories every single day.