Work Life Integration

I Treat Work as My Hobby

As the Dolly Parton song says; ‘Workin’ nine to five, What a way to make a livin.’’ I couldn’t agree with this sentiment more. Why would you constrict yourself to a rigid work timetable when life is anything but rigid? You have it within your power to make your working life work with you, not against you. The whole concept of a work-life balance is a relic from a bygone era.

I never work. Work is integrated into my life but it’s a hobby and interest of mine that earns me money!

A work-life integration banishes this idea of having to strike a fine balance of fitting my personal life around my working life. To some, this means I work unusual hours and always seem to be working, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s true that I don’t work 9-5, I work when I need to, so the hours that I work may seem unconventional to society.

If you genuinely celebrate Fridays and hate Mondays, you need to rethink your entire fucking mindset.

While others are asleep I am working. But conversely, while others are tied to a desk or stuck in rush hour traffic, I am in a tropical location with my laptop. Once my few hours work for the day are done I am off exploring with my nearest and dearest and living life to the full.

work life integration

Let me be clear, this is not a boast. It is simply to help you realise that not only is work-life integration possible, but it can work for you. I have no doubt that wherever you work you put in a solid day’s graft, so why not put those energies into making your timetable work for you instead of for someone else’s benefit?

Think of it this way; Your boss comes to you and says, “Instead of fighting with traffic and coming to the office for your 9-5 shift, go on holiday with your family. The only prerequisite is that you have to work for a few hours each day.

This can be done on the beach, on a balcony, in your accommodation, on top of a mountain, anywhere you like. As long as the work gets done, you can literally work anywhere and the rest of the time is yours to do as you please.”

What would your response be?

You’d say yes, wouldn’t you?

Work-life integration is the way forward in our 24-hour society. The only thing stopping you is you.

Define Work-Life Integration

I wanted to write this blog to answer the question that I get asked the most often; “Why do you work on a holiday?” My response is and always will be; “Why not?”

Let me explain that. I love my job because it allows me to travel. Being a digital nomad gives me the luxury of working wherever I want, whenever I want. As long as I have my trusty laptop and an internet connection I can work anywhere in the world that I like. I work on my own time clock and answer to no-one other than my own conscience.

Working on holiday to me is a way to experience new cultures and embrace different ways of thinking. I also find that the relaxed state of mind that I experience while on holiday ultimately improves my productivity and keeps me eager to strive for better things for me personally and for my company.

work and life integration

That’s why I work on my holidays. By putting in those extra few hours with a relaxed mind it is, in effect, paying for my next adventure. Work a 9-5 job and you’ll be lucky to get 30 days holiday a year including bank holidays IF you can get the days off that you actually want.

Define Work-Life Integration

The work-life integration model is much more flexible. It allows me to take more holidays a year and spend valuable time making memories with my friends and family. They have gotten used to seeing me work for a short while on holidays and I constantly get stick from them about it, but the simple fact of the matter is it is those few hours that are paying for the next holiday.

When I work on holiday it’s very much a home-from-home experience; I choose the hours I work, I choose the venue, I choose whether to take calls and emails or not, I fit it around the day’s events. It’s far better than saving up all your allowed holidays and working overtime to pay for it.

This is the life that my business allows me to indulge in. It’s what I would define as work + life integration as opposed to work/life balance. It doesn’t only apply to work on holiday either. At home in everyday life I can structure meetings around my gym sessions, can attend football matches without having to ask for a day off, and make personal appointments without the hassle of it intruding on my work schedule. My work fits around everything else rather than everything else fitting around my work hours.

Work-Life Balance Vs. Work-Life Integration

I’d like to put the whole work-life balance vs work-life integration into perspective. I don’t wake up in the morning and hop on a plane to a new location every day; it’s impractical and unrealistic. For all the times that I work when I’m on holiday, there are many more hours of late nights, road trips to meet clients and weekends alone in the office. I work damn hard to be able to sustain the work-life integration that I have.

To me, a work-life balance is archaic. There are so many demands on our time that trying to structure a life around work seems like a daunting task. A ‘regular’ work-life balance may go something like this;

  • Wake up and get ready for work
  • Get the kids ready for school
  • Drop the kids off at breakfast club because you have to be in work for 9.00 a.m
  • Fight with rush hour traffic
  • Work hard until you get a half an hour lunch break
  • Clock off at 5.30 p.m
  • Fight with rush hour traffic to pick up the kids from the after-school club because, thanks to your job, you weren’t able to collect them when school finished.
  • Cook an evening meal and make sure the kids have done their homework
  • Make sure the kids are showered and in bed for a reasonable time which means you have about an hour of quality time with them.
  • Make lunches and iron uniforms for the kids and yourself for the following day.
  • Repeat Monday through Friday
  • Saturday and Sunday – spend your two days off trying to cram in everything that you didn’t have time to do during the week. Go to the gym, grocery shop, pay bills, socialise, spend time with the kids etc.
  • Back to step one and repeat endlessly.

More Work-Life Balance Vs. Work-Life Integration

When you break it down like that it seems like utter madness, doesn’t it? Now, think of the same scenario but using the work/life integration method;

  • Get the kids ready for school
  • Drop them off when it is time for them to go in, not early because you have to be at the office for 9.00 a.m
  • Begin work – this can be done anywhere because all you need is a laptop and an internet connection.
  • Have lunch whenever you like and for however long you like – maybe even incorporate it into a meeting with clients.
  • Collect the kids from school at the end of the school day because you can.
  • Spend quality time with your kids while making a meal and helping with homework.
  • Make lunches and iron uniforms
  • Once the kids are in bed, start work again for a few more hours
  • The weekend is your own because you’ve still managed to get through your workload during the week.

Of course, this is just one example. The main point of the work-life integration though is that it allows you flexibility. Want to fit an hour in at the gym before you start work? No problem. Maybe you like to do the weekly grocery shop on Thursday afternoon so you don’t have to brave the crowds on a Saturday afternoon? Go ahead. As long as the work gets done then there’s no problem.

work life integration ethic

More Work-Life Balance Vs. Work-Life Integration

Going back to the holiday’s situation for a moment, here are two scenarios:

  1. Work/Life Balance – Work 9-5 and spend all year looking forward to two weeks away. However, you work so hard trying to achieve it that you can’t actually unwind while you are there, then spend the last few days dreading going back to work.
  2. Work/ Life integration – Work as hard as you do in a 9-5 job but work the hours that suit you. Go on holiday more often, spend more time with your family and have to work for a few hours each day on the job you love while you’re there.

Which would you rather do?

By making your work a part of your life as opposed to structuring your life around work, you maximise your own potential and create the opportunity to have a more fulfilling life.

How to Achieve Work-Life Integration

Once they understand why I work as I do, the next question people often ask me is how to achieve this work/ life integration.

Where I excel is my ridiculous sickening work ethic. I was brought up with the notion of grafting instilled into me. Whether it’s playing football or running a business, I always put 110% into whatever I’m doing. I am laser-focused because I know that I will reap the rewards if I do. It’s an old cliché that if you choose a job that you love then you’ll never work a day in your life, but it’s completely true.

You have to prioritise but not in a way that you are used to. Your work is vitally important in being able to sustain a work/life integration and you must make time for it but not at the expense of having a personal life.

The greatest advantage of a work/life integration is flexibility. You can switch your working day around to incorporate things like school plays, dentist visits, going to the gym etc. but you MUST be disciplined enough to do the work later.

integrate work with travel

Tips for Work-Life Integration

Here are a few tips that I can give you if you want work-life integration to work for you. Many of them are common sense, but some of them may surprise you;

Know When and How to Say No

It might sound odd me telling you to turn work down, but knowing when and how to say no will prove more productive over time. It makes more sense to have ten jobs, do them well and get more work from those clients as a result than to have twenty jobs, struggle to finish them and not give them your full attention? Pick your fights!

Delegate and Work ON your Business

This is probably the most important tip that I can give to you. By delegating tasks that you feel comfortable letting others handle, you free up time to work ON the business, not FOR the business. Your staff are there because you trust them; lean on their strengths so you can devote more of your time to growing and nurturing the business itself.

work life integration best friends

Only Work with People You Like

Is there anything worse than having to spend eight hours a day with someone that you don’t like? By only working with people that you like you create a positive atmosphere, which in turn becomes a more productive atmosphere. Even better, you get to celebrate your successes with those people too. It’s a no-brainer, really.

Integrate Exercise into Your Working Day

It’s clinically proven that exercise is good not only for the body but for the mind too. By integrating exercise into your working day you release endorphins that clear your mind, leaving you refreshed for the rest of the working day. Also, we only get one body – it makes sense to look after it.

work life balance

Socialise with Clients and Suppliers

‘No man is an island’ and business is nothing without their clients and suppliers. They are integral to your business and a good working relationship goes a long way. So, rather than treating them as a faceless business, socialise with clients and suppliers and treat them to a burger and chips instead!

Network and Adapt Mindset 1+1=3

Networking, especially in SEO, is utterly essential. I didn’t get where I am today by closing myself off from my peers or discounting other opinions. By networking and adapting your mindset to a different way of working, sometimes 1+1=3 after all.

working with best friends

Focus on Productivity, Not Hours

This goes back to me working seemingly unusual hours. It doesn’t matter to me if I work 40 hours a week or 60 hours a week as long as I am seeing the productivity from that time. It will balance itself out in the long run, especially when I’m on holiday. By focusing on productivity, not hours, I am safeguarding the future of my company, my employees, and my ability to maintain a work-life integration.

Break Up Your Day to Achieve Flow State

We’ve all been in the situation where we feel like we’re beating a dead horse. Try as we might we just can’t get going. If you are in the situation where you have a work/life balance, you just have to suck it up and get on with it. If you have work/life integration, however, then you are able to break up your day to achieve a flow state. You can step over the dead horse and carry on being productive.

work and life

If You Enjoy What You Do, There’s No Reason to Draw Strict Lines

Hopefully, this blog has given you some food for thought. For a work/life integration to succeed you will need masses of self-determination and iron willpower, but the rewards that it reaps are more than worth it. If you enjoy what you do, there’s no reason to draw strict lines for your work or your personal life.

Successful integration of the two gives you a sense of achievement and allows you to live the life that you previously only dreamed off.

Just take a look at any of the photos on this page and you will realise that what I say is not only the truth, but it could so easily be you in those photos, it could be your life too. See what you can do today to transform your working life from being chained to the clock, to one of personal freedom and fulfilment.

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