There are few cultures in the world able to turn a phrase better than the Japanese. From komorebi which describes the moment the sun and wind pass through the trees to create a shadow dance on the ground to tsundoku, someone who buys lots of books but doesn’t get around to reading them. There are countless things that Japanese has a word for - that Western languages don’t.
When it comes to a work/life balance, they have a phrase for that too. Karoshi literally translates to ‘death by overwork’ and is used to describe someone whose health suffers from working too much.
Achieving a work/life balance is essential not only for your physical and mental health but ensuring you stay productive. The use of a digital calendar is just one step to getting there - so let’s look at how you can make the most of yours.
Why you should strive for a good work/life balance
Life can be hectic - there are few people who would deny that. With a busy job, family commitments and fitting in time to spend with friends it can often feel like we’re being pulled in a million different directions. This is why getting a balance between work and your personal life is essential. Not only is it going to help you avoid burnout but you’ll be a far more productive leader, freelancer, entrepreneur or employee.
There is no doubt that at least a few people reading this article will have sacrificed personal time under the belief that it’s the only way to get ahead. Burnout, however, is a very real thing. When you don’t take the time to step back and recharge, not only will you potentially put your health in danger but damage relationships with those closest to you.
This also goes for any teams you manage. Make sure you check in regularly with them so you know if they have too much on their plate. Reassign tasks as needed and reach out to them if you see signs of stress or burnout.
It’s often easier said than done and no doubt many of us feel guilty when taking time off or pushing back on a request because of personal reasons. However, scheduling personal time and prioritizing self-care will benefit your company in the long run. Making time for exercise, hobbies and spending time with friends and family will all contribute to better mental health. That in turn will lead to us feeling refreshed and focused on a return to work - making us more productive.
A report by Harvard Business Review shows that a stable work/life balance dramatically boosts productivity, reduces turnover and improves employees' mental and physical health. When we feel fulfilled in our personal lives, it can translate to a positive attitude and improved performance in the workplace.
The benefits of using a digital calendar to strike a balance
Now we have the why, what about the how? It’s all very well and good to promise ourselves we’ll focus on a better work/life balance but that can’t just happen. We can’t go from scheduling back-to-back meetings, from dawn till dusk to suddenly having availability for the gym in the middle of the day. Well…not without some help.
This is where a digital calendar comes in. A one-stop shop to manage all your commitments - personal or professional.
One of the biggest advantages of using a tool like Google Calendar is its accessibility. With a few clicks, you can view your schedule from anywhere - on your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. This means no matter where you are, if you bump into someone in the coffee shop or are sitting in an important client meeting - you can check your availability instantly. Compare that to a physical diary. If you don’t have it to hand, it’s a stab in the dark if you’re free or not.
Once you have that time arranged, a digital calendar can remind you of the event before it happens. The ability to schedule reminders and set them in the way that works best for you means you’ll never miss an important meeting or appointment because you forgot to check your diary.
Unlike a paper schedule that comes printed in a very specific way, with a digital calendar you can set it up how you like. That includes the appearance of your calendar, different colors for different types of events, whether you want to meet in person or via video conferencing and even adding notes to each entry. This means you can make it work the way you find most productive not change how you do things to match an already set style.
Tips for setting up your calendar
If we pick on the last point of the previous section - there is a lot to be said about how to set up and customize your digital calendar to improve your work/life balance.
Integrating with a scheduling tool like Doodle will help you free up a lot of time by ditching the email back and forth for booking meetings. Take Booking Page, for instance, simply set your availability and send a link. With your calendar connected, when someone books a time with you it will automatically appear on your calendar. No risk of double booking or scheduling a time you don’t want to meet.
It’s also a good idea to schedule personal events regardless of how small they are. This can include things like exercise, relaxation, going out for a lunch with colleagues or even just ten minutes away to destress. You can’t have people scheduling every minute you’re free. This will help ensure you're taking care of yourself and maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
Lastly, but probably most important of all, make using your digital calendar a habit. It’ll take time to get used to always referring to it and going through the routine of adding everything to it. However, once you do, you’ll find you start saving lots of time and are far more able to maintain a healthy work/life balance.