'Manage energy, not time, and work-life balance will follow'
Niveditha Viswanathan is VP of Business Development and Strategic Alliances at HealthifyMe. A Stanford graduate, her career has focussed on education, health tech and making people's lives better through technology. She started her career with McKinsey and has since worked with start-ups in India and US.
Being part of a hyper-growth startup ,HealthifyMe, means that most of my days are in a state of change and flux. At HealthifyMe, we are marching towards a common purpose of creating a healthier India. No small mission, that! A significant portion of my work life is unpredictable, very exciting and therefore correspondingly stressful. Very few days are comparable and predictable.
And in my career, I have met many women who are leading incredible organisations while chasing the elusive work-life balance. Now, I know the phrase is clichéd and very subjective. To me, it is more about reprioritising as life takes its course and career evolves. I think of it less about balancing a scale and more about managing to do justice to each role that we women undertake.
I started my career with McKinsey and in true consulting style, I have three guiding principles that have helped me manoeuver work and life.
1) Ruthless prioritisation : at home and at work. For the most part, it takes the same time to do unimportant tasks as it does to do important ones. My top goal, every week, is to have a clear idea of my to-do list, and to knock off 10-15% off the original list. Again, this refers to both work and personal tasks, knowing it is ok to say no to things that are not very crucial or consequential. This also focuses on productivity, ensuring that your time is being directed to only the most important activities.
2) Manage energy, not time: Today, technology, travel and connectedness ensures that we need to stretch ourselves and our work schedules. But within those demands, one of the things that I have found very helpful is to create space for 'sacred rituals', that define activities you enjoy with your partner, family and even colleagues. These could be as simple as a morning walk or a team coffee every other Friday. Rituals, like these, help bring strong identity to relationships and making time sacrosanct, while creating positive energy that is uplifting.
3) Communicate. And then some. Some of my women friends who are in leadership positions have constantly restated one advice - find trusted colleagues you can share your experiences and emotions with. And more importantly, trusting your partner and close family with what is happening at work. Creating this transparency lets your closed ones bring empathy and allows close colleagues and mentors support you at work.
Overall, trying to balance work and life takes active energy and effort. It is about balancing work, personal life and what women sometimes tend to overlook, our personal self. Taking time to routinely check in with your partner/family or taking a quick break to be close to nature are very effective. At the end of the day, it is more about realigning priorities - some days will be more work than play. But, as long as there are days of play, we'll be fine!