Whenever you talk about gender diversity you have to consider both sides of the coin – the responsibility of the organization and those of the women themselves. As I see it, one of the key elements that women have to consider to get ahead in the corporate is understanding the art of work-life balance. Of course, there are those in the West who may say that there’s no difference between how men and women achieve work-life balance. However, those of us with experience in the East know that culture dictates a lot in women’s daily lives. And because Asian women have significantly more responsibilities at home than their Western counterparts the art of work-life balance is even more important.

Yes, I acknowledge I’m not an expert in this field due to the fact that I’m not a woman – but I have seen the following tips work for female colleagues and family. It doesn’t matter if you work in a high pressure full time job or run a small business from home. If you’re not taking care of yourself and staying healthy, there’s no way you’ll be able to succeed at your job and take care of all the other responsibilities around you.

1. Make Time For Yourself

The number of times I’ve heard a woman say “I don’t have the time to exercise!”, or read, or meditate, or go out on their own is just insane. The usual reasons (note I didn’t say excuses) that go with this sentence is, taking care of the kids after work, doing the cooking, cleaning the house, or spending time with the in-laws.

In most Eastern cultures, these are real pressures that most woman have to deal with no matter how forward thinking they or their families are. It doesn’t matter how much money they make, their first priority is usually the home. The result of this is women making time for work, family, home – everything but themselves. And that’s the mistake. You have to make some time for yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s a trip to the salon or workout at the gym. Whatever makes you happy and mentally healthy.

2. Continue To Grow Your Mind

This ties in with the point above. Because women are so pressed for time they often don’t indulge in experiences which help them grow their minds which ultimately leaves them behind their male counterparts. Also, there are a number of countries like Pakistan where people generally just don’t read. Combine the two and you’re setting the stage for women who don’t push themselves to invest in their knowledge.

Whether it be taking part in an online training course or simply reading a book you must continue to grow your mind. I understand that it’s hard to make time for multiple activities like going to the gym and attending an online seminar. But the world these days has easy access to knowledge in many different forms – you just have to be willing to put in a little time.

3. Embrace The Differences Between You And A Man

Men and women are obviously different but the additional differences piled on by society can complicate work-life balance. As a women, you’ll probably face situations where you’ll be challenged if you want to take on a leadership role or have a job which requires frequent traveling. When trying to achieve balance it’s important to remember that sometimes you’ll have to focus on work and other times on the home.

I think men have it easy – they get to focus on work consistently. For women, they have to pick and chose when they can focus on what. By accepting this difference, you’ll almost achieve a type of liberation. One which lets you focus on both parts of your life when the time is right.

4. Don’t Compete With Other Women

I can go on and on about this topic. In fact, I could write an entire post on just this topic, but I’ll save all of you a rant and summarize it into one section. Women seem to have this internal desire to compete with one another – not with other men, but against each other. It could be because there seems to be a perceived limitation to the number of women who could rise to the top. Why this happens, I’m not sure.

But I think if women came together and supported each other’s growth rather than try to hamper it, the overall efforts for gender diversity would be further enhanced. Mentoring women-to-women, organizing networking sessions, creating nurseries in the office – whatever it may be – women need to support each other in the workplace so that one part of the work/life balance is taken care of.

If you have any ideas for women to achieve work-life balance, share them in the comments below.

[Photo Credit: bedtime via photopin (license)]