Checking emails late into the night, reaching for your phone before you’ve even had breakfast to start your working day, the ‘lunch break’ that involves a Zoom meeting – the lines between our work lives and our personal lives have never been blurrier.
While there are many advantages to always being in the loop, getting things done quickly and having some flexibility in where, how and when you work, there is a real cost to our ‘constantly on’ way of working.
According to a 2018 study by Gallup, 23% employees reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, with an additional 44% saying they sometimes felt burned out.i 2020 brought with it further challenges to work-life balance, with a survey by online employment platform Monster finding that 69% employees were feeling burned out mid-year.ii
Work-life balance means quite distinct things to different individuals and, it turns out, the way we manage and achieve balance differs markedly between different personality types. Given this balance is something we can all struggle with at times, it’s worth being familiar with your personality type and how this impacts your work-life balance.
Understanding your personality type
The Harvard Business Review identified four aspects of personality of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – extraversion or introversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, judging or perceiving.iii
Whether or not you have done the Myers-Briggs test, having a deeper understanding of your personality will help you understand how you respond to challenges. For instance, if you are more towards the extrovert end of the scale, being with others will re-change your batteries, while introverts need alone time to reflect.
If you are a sensing personality you are more comfortable tackling one thing at a time, while those who tend to intuition thrive when juggling many balls in the air.
Those who are thinkers need to watch that they are not perceived as too blunt in their communications with others and those who show feeling traits need to ensure they nurture themselves.
And finally, those who show judgement traits will thrive within the structure of set hours, such as 9 – 5, whereas perceivers love the flexibility of setting their own work schedule.
Attaining a work-life balance
We’re all different, yet everyone benefits from having clear boundaries around their time and by identifying their priorities. If you have found your working hours have crept into your downtime, try to set specific times to check your email and attend meetings. If you prefer a more flexible approach, ensure you’re making time for friends or family and participating in hobbies you enjoy.
When setting goals, pay attention to how many of them relate to your career and how many are focused on other important aspects of your life, such as your health and relationships. It’s easy to just focus on one area and neglect others, so make a conscious effort to attend to those that have been forgotten about. Where can you put more of your attention and what needs to give in order for you to divert your energy to this area?
Setting SMART goals is a helpful task for all personality types to do – you just might do them in different ways.iv For instance someone with sensing preferences might reflect more and need to look at the bigger picture in order to set goals, while an intuition preference can mean that person will go with a gut feeling but would do well to focus on one thing rather than setting lots of goals.
It’s fair to say that work-life balance is never going to be a perfect equilibrium all the time, however you can put steps in place so that you can enjoy both work and play.