For the longest time, work has been our defining factor. Our only measure of success. As young children we barrel through our schooling career trying to get to a ‘finish line’. This magical place that allows us to rest. As adults in the workplace, we have continued this rushed way of trying to get through our lives without pause. We find ourselves demarcating work and rest. Rest is attributed to holidays and seems very separate from our daily lives. As our lives have evolved and changed from having a separation from work and home, this model has proved to be redundant and does not allow for any balance in our lives.
Allah Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala has chosen us to be the nation that is extremely balanced. We are Ummatan Wasatah and this has to translate into creating a work-life balance. The Holy Prophet (s) time and again highlighted to us the importance of working for oneself. Seeking an honest livelihood is a great act of worship,if done with the correct intention. Nabi (s) encourages people to earn a halaal livelihood. In a famous hadith the Holy Prophet (s) says:
ما اكل أحد طعام قط خيرمن ان ياكل من عمل يده“A person does not eat anything better than that which he eats from the work of his own hand”
وكان داود عليه السلام ياكل من عمل يده“And the Prophet Dawud (as) used to eat from the earnings of his own hand”.
We understand the great importance of working and earning a halaal sustenance, however at the very same time we must be careful that we do not get so caught up in our work that we begin to neglect every other aspect of our lives. It can become so easy for our business to take over our lives, for us to be inundated with emails, WhatsApp’s and constantly working. As we have moved away from working in person, working from home has allowed us some ease, however at the very same time it has blurred the lines between our different roles. We may be at home, but we don’t have a clear cut off point. There seems to be a greater need to succeed, and this impacts our work life balance tremendously. You find yourself having much less personal time and because you are trying to do your best in both your personal life as well as your work life you find a lot of conflict between the two.
Ziegler a famous motivational speaker has highlighted this disparity to us in the following quote: “I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered as successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles”.
As Muslims in the workplace, this home- life balance is so integral to our lives, as our personal lives are also great acts of ibaadah. We must analyze our lives to see if we are sacrificing one aspect of our lives at the expense at another part of our lives. Are we managing our ibaadaat, our muaamalaat, our personal care, relationship with our spouse and family? Are we so focused on work that our relationship with our family members becomes affected?
“Don’t get so busy in making a living that you forget to make a living”, Mufti Moosajee perfectly captures the focus of work in that it should complement our lives and not become the focus of our lives completely.
How do we create this work- life balance?Firstly, prioritize work tasks at the beginning of the day and structure your day around them. Group similar tasks together. Understand that your work is an amaanah and should be prioritized. Schedule regular breaksthroughout the day at regular intervals. Re- energize yourself by taking a walk in the garden or balcony with deep breaths and simple breathing exercises.
Batching your work with breaks- In a workshop held at Radio Islam International Lance Rothchild explained that he worked in ninety-minute work batching with ten-minute breaks – checking emails and messages and this allowed him to work at an optimum level.
Use technology to save time – technology has been created to allow for faster work out put. In using technology to facilitate for faster work inflow and outflow we can cut out so many responsibilities that might not slow the process down. We could send emails or schedule online meetings to save on commuting and to facilitate work- life balance.
In creating a life of balance we allow our minds to be free to egnjoy every moment as a blessing in and off itself, without worrying and focusing on the next task. We are able to take joy in our work life and equally so have time for our personal and home lives.