Holiday of the Mind - Go Slow to Go Faster

Are you fortunate enough to give your mind a holiday break off work? Are you struggling to achieve work-life balance? Let me offer a different perspective on this issue.

I am sure many of us, as HR Business Partners, would agree: HR Business Partnering is exciting, enriching and enabling. We sign up to be a HR Business Partner to value-add to the dynamism and growth of our companies. We do this by serving our assigned business units directly with our counsel as best as we can. Regardless of what others may say, this is the best job ever for HR professionals.

Our continuous drive to serve our business leaders requires our upmost commitment, passion, and a dose of servant leadership mentality. These attributes do come with drawbacks: Our emails may always be clogged with a myriad of requests and questions; our company assigned mobile phones may be on 24/7; our office landline may be constantly filled with missed calls and voice messages. Our situation can simply be summed up with the following Singaporean slang: "Time is not enough for any other things lah".

Work-Life Balance, Mission Impossible

To ensure that we are having the best time of our work lives and personal lives, we need to be conscious about how time is invested in each of these aspects. As I reflect on my own life, I conclude that it is not possible to have a balanced work life, in view of our desires to serve our best advice, perspectives and assistance to our clients yet achieving a balance of work and personal life. Take the number of hours we spend working for example: How many waking hours do we spend on work matters? We have to come to terms with this reality. Enough said.

Work-life Effectiveness, NOT Work-life Balance

As I read through related online articles, there are a few interesting terms used to re-define the common notion of work-life balance. Here are two interesting ones:

  • Randy Conley, in, used the term Work-Life Harmony to advocate an "integrated and holistic approach to life where work and play blend together".
  • Ted Coine, in, used the term Work-Life Flow to encourage the thinking of work and life not as two separate avenues, but one avenue where the fun begins.

The commonality between these two interesting and forward-looking definitions is that the management of our work and personal lives should be viewed as one construct rather than two constructs. By viewing this issue as one construct enables us to attend to the issue holistically.

The lens we use is how we see the world. In this regard, I would like to offer a different shade of lens. According to, effectiveness is defined to which objectives are achieved and the degree to which specified issue is resolved. In other words, effectiveness means us "doing the right thing."

Personally, I choose and aim for work-life effectiveness instead to reconcile with this reality. Work-life effectiveness would then imply that we have an idea on how we want to spend our time and seek to land ourselves in that ideal situation. Simply put: When we are at work, be at work. When we are at home, be at home. To elaborate this further, when we are engaging with our family members and friends, let us engage them with the fullest attention which they deserve, without thinking about how to attend to that request lying unread in our inbox. On this notion, I like one of Randy Conley's tips on achieving Work-Life Harmony"Being present and focused in the moment increases our joy and satisfaction tremendously which benefits us in all areas of our life." In other words, it is that zoom lens which helps us to focus on doing the things which we value most, and will enable us to be effective in our work and personal lives.

In a Nutshell

Work-life balance is mission impossible. Alternative forward-looking definitions, such as work-live harmony and work-life flow, describe how we should view both our work and personal lives as one construct, rather than two. My alternate viewpoint of having effectiveness in work life and personal life pushes this idea further to include the notion that we need to be focused in order to be effective in whatever we choose to do. In other words, I would aim for Life's Work Effectiveness.

Yes. The ordering of the words 'Life' and 'Work' is not a typo.

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