In this blog post, I will discuss the various different ways in which a poor work-life balance can hinder your performance on the tennis court. Speaking from experience, there certainly have been points in my tennis journey where I have struggled to maintain a positive work-life balance which in turn negatively impacted my play. This predominantly occurred when I was in secondary school. However, a poor work-life balance can affect any of you, regardless of your age or profession. There are plenty of techniques you can use to achieve a balance between work and life and I will present them to you in this blog post. Nevertheless, in order to apply these techniques, we must first be able to identify when our work-life balance is negative and unstable.
The symptoms so to speak of a poor work-life balance are hard to identify which can lead people to go a long time without even noticing the lack of balance in their own lives. Therefore, a key mechanism that we must use is 'self-reflection'. My advise would be at the end of each week or even each day ask yourself the following questions. How was my productivity in school, college, work, etc... recently? Have I been more productive or less productive than in previous weeks? If the answer is 'less productive', this may be an indicator of a lack of balance between life and work but it is not definitive proof, so let's continue. Did I feel extra stressed today? More than usual? If so try to identify the cause of the stress, is it purely social expectations or is it work deadlines? Finally, ask yourself, do I feel prepared for work tomorrow? This is a simple question with a complicated answer. If you find yourself awake at night dreading work the next day or plotting a way to get out of going to work, then this is a clear indicator that you are having an issue finding balance in your life.
Now let us take a look at the various ways in which we can create a more positive work-life balance. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of clear communication in your workplace and indeed at home or in your community. If you are having a problem with workloads, it is vital that you tell someone about it, preferably the person who gave you such a workload. 90% of the time, the issue is resolved. However, if the issue is not resolved, it is crucial that you don't give up. Take up the issue with Human Resources if you are in a workplace or the Principal/Yearhead/Tutor if you are attending school. This resilience will stand to you in life and of course on the tennis court.
We can create balance in our lives by identifying the various factors that have lead to a lack of balance in the first place. Spreading yourself too thin is a common cause of an unbalanced work-life ratio. In order to avoid this, try not to be a yes man/woman or a people pleaser, prioritise your own time by identifying what is more important to you. Once again assertiveness will help you to create a strong mentality on the tennis court. So be assertive and stick up for yourself. If you feel that a certain task will take too much away from your free time make sure you are able to say no.
Plotting personal time into your weekly schedule is a fantastic way to gain control over your life. If it is at all possible, try to leave work at work, and school at school, in order to truly disconnect yourself from your work when engaging in personal activities. This way your work does not creep into your thoughts while you are in the middle of a tennis match. We understand the difficulty school students face when it comes to homework especially in secondary school. It makes me wonder is homework really as beneficial to students as it is made out to be? In my opinion, when we consider the broader picture, it is definitely not. The department of education must consider the implications that homework has on the mental well-being of students.
This brings me onto a final point where I would like to share my own experience with a poor work-life balance. As I mentioned, I struggled to maintain a balance between my education and tennis when I was in secondary school. Especially in the academic year of 2018/19 when I was in 5th year. I found my mind constantly wandering when I was playing my matches which was extremely frustrating for me. Between points, I would tell myself to focus, using the focus exercise 'focus on the ball' which usually was very effective for me. However, I kept thinking about the various homework assignments I had not yet completed. During this time, I took tennis very seriously and played regularly. So my schedule looked something like this. From 8:50 am to 4:00 pm I would be in school. I would then arrive home at 5:00 pm and get something to eat. I would start my homework as soon as I could. Considering I was studying seven subjects at school, homework would never be completed before 7:30 pm. I would then have to eat dinner very quickly before heading off to training at 8:00 pm. Naturally, I would be thinking about the homework I had yet to do which not only took my mind away from the tennis court but generated a large amount of anxiety within me. If I was to ask myself the question in paragraph two, 'am I prepared for tomorrow?' the answer would be a definite no. As a result of all of this, I struggled with spells of anxiety throughout Fifth year which completely halted the progress of my tennis career.
Based on the above information and my personal anecdote, we can say that a positive work-life balance is not just beneficial for your tennis career, but crucial. Hopefully someday in the future, businesses and schools will have to ensure that all employees/students are maintaining a healthy balance between their work and their lives. Ensuring that you have a balanced lifestyle will greatly improve your ability to focus during a match and as a result, it will also improve the quality of your tennis too. To reiterate, we would advise that you do a bit of self-reflection in order to truly identify where you need to make changes for a more balanced life.
“You don’t have to make yourself miserable to be successful. It’s natural to look back and mythologize the long nights and manic moments of genius, but success isn’t about working hard, it’s about working smart.” ―Andrew Wilkinson, founder of MetaLab