A statement by Narayana Murthy, the founder of Infosys, about working 70 hours a week has ignited a debate on the delicate balance between our professional and personal lives. Achieving work-life balance is possible even when working more than 70 hours a week, provided we manage our time properly and understand the nuances of work-life equilibrium. In this article, I will delve into the critical aspects of time management and achieving work-life balance, drawing upon insights from experts and best practices to help navigate this intricate terrain.
The Quest for Extraordinary Success
Shaving off a mere forty-eight hours from our workweek might be acceptable if we aspire to be just another face in the crowd, living a life that merely passes by on this Earth. But for those of us who yearn to achieve greatness, to stand out from the ordinary, to become extraordinary, or build a company like Infosys, we must set our sights on more. We seek to leave an indelible mark, a legacy that echoes through time, and to create value that extends far beyond ourselves.
Defining Purpose and Setting Goals
First and foremost, having a definite purpose in my life is the cornerstone of effective time management and achieving a sense of balance. I need to ask myself, “What do I want to accomplish in life?” This question acts as my guiding star, directing my actions and decisions. When I have a compelling purpose, it becomes easier to prioritize tasks and allocate my time in a way that aligns with my overarching goals and aspirations.
Goals are the stepping stones that lead me toward fulfilling my life’s purpose. They provide direction and motivation, helping me stay on track. To make my goals effective, they must be clear, specific, and measurable. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are valuable tools that enable me to measure my progress objectively. Regularly reviewing my goals and KPIs ensures that I stay focused and motivated in my pursuit of balance.
The Three Pillars of Well-Being
In my quest for balance, it is vital to allocate non-negotiable time for certain fundamental aspects of life. Health, continuous learning, and family are the three pillars that uphold my well-being. Prioritizing my physical health through regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep is essential. Without good health, it becomes challenging to achieve anything else in life.
Continual learning is another essential facet of personal and professional growth. The modern world is in a constant state of evolution, and staying stagnant is not an option. Therefore, it is wise for me to set an annual objective for myself—to learn something new each year. Whether it’s acquiring a new skill, exploring a new hobby, or expanding my knowledge, learning keeps my mind sharp and adaptable.
Family is the bedrock of my support system, providing emotional sustenance and a sense of belonging. It is crucial to dedicate quality time to my loved ones, nurturing my personal relationships. Involving my family members in my work can foster understanding and support, allowing me to share my experiences and challenges. This shared involvement can strengthen family bonds and reduce conflicts that may arise from the demands of work.
Balancing Work and Family as a Team
Treating family as a team, akin to workplace leadership, involves understanding family dynamics, nurturing trust, and addressing conflicts. Positive norms, like open communication and mutual support, foster collaboration, while negative norms hinder it. Family conflicts, whether task-related, relationship-focused, or process-oriented, demand tailored strategies: using data for task issues, encouraging difficult conversations for relationships, and implementing family check-ups for processes. Effective family leadership means setting clear expectations, promoting accountability, and cultivating a culture of trust and cooperation. Just as in any successful team, an engaged family can thrive by working together, supporting one another, and resolving conflicts constructively.
Valuing Time and Prioritizing Tasks
Valuing everyone’s time, including my own, is a fundamental aspect of effective time management and work-life balance. Punctuality and honoring commitments are indicative of professionalism and consideration for others. Wasting time in unproductive meetings or activities that do not contribute to my goals should be avoided. It is essential for me to prioritize tasks based on their importance and relevance to my objectives.
Efficient Time Management and Multitasking
Furthermore, one of the key principles of efficient time management is avoiding the squandering of time on non-productive matters. Time is a finite resource, and using it wisely is paramount. This involves learning to say no to commitments that do not align with my purpose and objectives. Multitasking, when done effectively, can also be a valuable tool in optimizing my time. Multitasking involves performing more than one task at a time, such as listening to audiobooks or educational podcasts while commuting, exercising, or doing household chores.
Cultivating Personal Growth and Quality of Sleep
I cultivate habits and engage in activities that contribute to my overall personal growth. My hobbies include reading, writing, drawing, and traveling, all of which enrich my life. Additionally, I find entertainment and inspiration in movies, particularly those of a motivational or documentary nature. These pursuits not only provide enjoyment but also align with my aspirations for continuous self-improvement.
Quality of sleep holds greater significance than its quantity. Despite sleeping just six hours, I wake up feeling completely refreshed. On the flip side, once I’m asleep, I become as oblivious as Kumbhakarna; even an earthquake wouldn’t rouse me. I’m not accustomed to afternoon naps or siestas, yet I can nod off whenever and wherever the opportunity arises. This highlights the importance of deep, restorative sleep, regardless of the duration, and the occasional capacity for spontaneous naps.
The Value of Values
Einstein’s wisdom, “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value,” carries profound significance in our contemporary world. In an era where some pursue success through unethical or illegal means, his words underscore the importance of the journey itself. How we achieve our goals is of greater consequence than the success itself. Prioritizing values, integrity, and ethical conduct not only defines our character but also ensures that our success is truly meaningful and lasting. In a society that sometimes celebrates mere outcomes, Einstein’s message reminds us to place our focus on the principles and ethics that guide our path to success.
Building a Supportive Circle
Maintaining a circle of friends that contribute to overall growth and well-being is essential. Steering clear of toxic friends who consume time needlessly ensures that valuable time and energy are spent on nurturing beneficial bonds.
In conclusion, Narayana Murthy’s call for working long hours should be viewed within the context of individual goals and choices. Work-life balance is not a one-size-fits-all concept. It is a highly personal matter that depends on my unique circumstances and priorities. In today’s dynamic world, achieving a balance between work and personal life is challenging but essential for my long-term success and fulfilment. When each individual puts in that extra effort, it contributes collectively to the growth of the nation and the GDP.
Prof. Dr. Prahlada N.B
1 November 2023