We’re almost there. With visions of vaccines and the lows of ongoing lockdowns – many of us are looking forward to the end of 2020. 

Work-life balance has set an outstanding challenge for many of us this year. This was clear from the survey responses we received from last month’s newsletter. Work-life balance was THE topic you were most interested in learning more about by a long way!

Those of you who have participated in our Effective Academic workshops know that we don’t believe true ‘balance’ of work and life is ever possible.

Instead—we each have to find our own workable strain and flow based on our values.  What this strain looks like is not only different across people, but also shifts in each of us over time. Being in a place of workable strain is an embodied place too—full of sensation and feeling.

Workable strain is never easy, but it is viable. 

Workable strain has been different for each of us these past months. The strains of hectic travel and speaking schedules have given way to those related to unpredictable schooling shifts, evermore online meetings and emails, and far few boundaries between work and life. This has tested our capacity to stay focused on the right priorities and keep our balance in a workable strain.

While navigating work-life is never easy, more than anything during the winter break: may we all get what we truly need for continued effectiveness, success, and happiness for life and work in 2021!

Planning for better work-life balance in 2021

More than forty percent of our #happyacademic email survey respondents identified that work-life balance was their biggest challenge at the moment. While emails, mental health, managing change and meetings all merited a mention, challenges around work-life balance were identified by almost four times as many respondents.

Other responses continue to remind us all of the immense complexities of the work academics do, involving challenges from writing to motivation; from working with groups to working towards getting promotion—all in workplaces that value productivity (and sometimes hyper-productivity) and diversity but often lack transparency about how things really work. Throughout 2021 we will respond to your questions and focus this newsletter on what you said was most important to you.

Facing 2021: how will you approach your work differently?
What actions will you choose to prioritize to attain better work-life balance in the coming year? This is not going to happen by magic!

Drawing on the approach from “How to be a Happy Academic” consider forming new Success Pyramids for 2021. Use the Values Inventory we have discussed previously to work out what values are most to the fore for you right now in this moment.  Then using the Success Pyramid, align these values with what success will be for you to shape your priorities, goals, and tasks. If you don’t have a plan—someone or something else is going to have one for you!