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How flexible can the balance between work and leisure time be?

Tips for your personal work-life flow

Christian Focken 25.09.2013
Some buzzwords are thrown around indiscriminately and much too often, usually on completely inappropriate occasions. Work-life balance is one of them. Hundreds of books and DVDs, workshops and guides have been written on this topic - always searching for the optimum balance of work and leisure.

But the young professional generation coined the phrase work-life flow some time ago. They no longer regard work and leisure as fundamentally separate areas; they recognize both as necessary parts of a fulfilled life. This approach has both opportunities and risks.

This new definition of work is also reflected in Generation Y’s working habits: A home office and overtime are no longer thought of as options - they are now provided as a matter of course. Job entrants have no problem working ten or more hours some days - but in return they do expect to be able to leave at lunchtime on other days, and to be able to really dedicate themselves to their leisure time.

Closer inspection reveals that the term “work-life flow” actually describes the perfect approach to work and leisure. What are the key features of work-life fl

  • A flexible approach to working hours and location.
  • A smooth transition from work time to leisure time.
  • Integrating work into your life concept.
  • Self-determined, flexible working hours and switching off.

Work-life flow - with freedom comes responsibility

The central idea of work-life flow is individual organization of your own living and working environment, with the necessary degree of freedom and flexibility. As long as their employer cooperates (Microsoft has been consistently implementing this concept for years), the employees can decide for themselves when and where they work. Of course this is based on the assumption that task deadlines are completed on time.

It sounds tempting, but there are risks as well. There’s definitely the danger that you’ll never really stop working and will always be thinking about work problems. But the opposite can be true as well. If you always work from home, you will probably have less ability to concentrate as a result of the various distractions in a domestic environment, meaning that you get less done than in a purely professional setting. 

And you shouldn’t ignore the potential consequences for your private life either. However attractive flexible work might seem, not every partner will be understanding when you work on the weekends or after 10 p.m. To be able to make the most of the work-life flow concept, you should keep a few points in mind:

  • Examine how much freedom and self-determination are good for you.
  • Test if and when targets can help you work more effectively.
  • Discuss where your partner draws a line.
  • Always be aware of what your job means to you and what it is worth to you.
  • Regularly review whether the balance between your job and leisure time is still healthy.