Do you have WLB?
No, not a new disease. Or a certification. Not even a fancy new APP [Day 22 of my “One Day One Blog” ]
A while ago, I was invited by the women’s cell of a regional association of the student body to address a gathering. They wanted me to address the students on the topic of “work-life” balance(WLB).
At first, I was amused. Not because of juxtaposing work with life ( because work is not part of life, rt? ); nor was it the fact that their conditioning is so complete already that they assume being a woman I must be an authority on this topic. I have never seen my husband or fellow co-founders being asked to reflect on this topic.
I was amused because I thought, “Work-life balance in college? Seriously?” But once my amusement died down, I started pondering on this request. I realized that while life was relatively easy to manage back in college, I wish someone had started educating me on WLB way back in college itself. 10 years down the line, it would have helped me a lot (a) to anticipate and have realistic expectations for what lies ahead and (b) and perhaps even prepare for this conundrum called WLB.
I made the kids do a small exercise before we started the session. I asked them to write down on a piece of paper 3 things which take up most of their time on a daily basis and 3 things they REALLY wanted to do if they have ample time at their disposal.
There were absolutely no surprises in the notes that I got back.
The top activities which took up their time included studying( this covers preparing for GRE/CAT/etc), net surfing and sleeping.
And the things that they really wanted to do, if they had time were work on their music/play guitar, practice some form of sports and sleep ( yes… sleep made it into both the lists)
Needless to say, getting a job from campus and pursuing higher studies were the main goals of this crowd.
This is what I suggested that they do, if they wanted to get the maximum benefit from their 24 hours and come out as well rounded personalities who are better equipped to play at the “Work-Life-Balance” game.
Why do I say “classroom lessons” and not studies? Because I honestly believe that “studies” can happen anywhere. As a nation we give far too much importance to education that happens within the four walls of a classroom and very less value to the lessons learned outside.
The vast majority aspires for campus recruitment or higher studies. If you are looking for a job, your hands-on experience in executing a project in your area of interest will have far more value than the exact percentage you got from the university exams.
Just about any application to a reputed institution looks for well rounded individuals. And this is not the “I have helped in an orphanage near my home / went to an Old age home” kinda stuff… genuine long term commitment to a cause is what is important here.
Since this is the activity that consumes the maximum amount of time for you as a student, make sure that you are getting these benefits and not just a pretty marks card
In the 1st year of my college, I remember a talk where a corporate big-shot spoke about the value they place in “ Out-of-the-box thinking”.
I have this memory of visualizing a box and trying to look inside and then from outside… I wasn’t really sure what the man meant by “out-of-the-box” thinking. And the problem is that no one ever tells you what this magical thing is. Or how to go about this task.
I believe the age old wisdom which encourages us to have “hobbies” is actually the clue to this very puzzle.
We spent the largest chunk of our waking ours at school/office. A small portion of that is spent at home or with friends. You think your life changes as you go from college to work. But your pattern stays pretty much the time. You have one or 2 activities which take up the bulk of your time. Without even realizing you settle into a pattern and that pattern determines not just the time your alarm goes off but the way you think too.
“Repetitive thinking” is the death knell of creativity
Having a keen interest which has nothing to do with your studies/work or family will ensure that you develop a very different perspective to the way you think, the way you approach a problem.
This makes you a better student, a better friend and a better spouse or parent too. In the grown-up world, I have seen young mothers who give up all their interests in life and by the time they reach 30s, they are very frustrated. This resentment is then taken out on the family.
Very broadly speaking our ancestors either worked in the fields as they were poor or they were rich and they practiced activities such as yoga, martial arts, dances, etc Then how did we end up as a culture which hits the gym only when we have a health problem or for pure vanity?
Like everything else, this is also a question of discipline. You do not need too much time or money to ensure that you have a daily health regime.
When I was young, I suffered from what I now to refer to as “bouts of good sense” . During these times, I would either start on a morning walk or attend yoga classes. I would have just embarked on this journey when well-wishers would start advising on how walking really doesn’t help much or yoga is not good for building strength. Net result? I would quit. I mean, why start on something that is not so great, rt? Wrong. If I had stayed with any form of physical exercise I would be in much better health than I am.
So start with something — anything — that works for you. Just ensure that you stick on to it.
Let me start with the disclaimer that “reading” mentioned here is not the kind that you “group” under the “hobbies” section in your resume.
I am talking about the kind of reading that allows you to travel the world while you sit at home.
I once attended a talk given by Subrato Bhagchi. Ours was a small and exclusive gathering of startups who were awaiting pearls of wisdom from one of the MindTree Founders. Of all the things he said, this is what stayed with me — “If your company produces APP, then please go read books on Anthropology once on a while”
His point was, reading on topics that does not have a direct relevance to your area of study will widen your world view. And you do not need to wait for retirement to start on all these activities.
Read for 30 mins before you hit the bed. Wake up 30 minutes prior to your usual time and go for a walk. Block 2 hours in a week on your calendar to start an activity that you truly wish to do ( just for yourself).
Stick to this for a month and see the difference in your life.
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Friends, this is the Day 22 of my odyssey to write one blog EVERY DAY for the month of May 2017. “One Day, One Blog”
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