Is Work-Life Balance a Myth?
Look, I fumble with work-life balance myself. Google has over 109,000,000 search results for it and it's one of the top discussions amongst our clients. So at least I’m not alone. :)
If you’re anything like me, you battle with:
- The feeling of never getting enough done. Not enough work, errands, chores, time with friends, sleep, yoga, etc. It's never enough!
- Being a wiped-out, non-functional human being after 8 p.m.
- Being dangerous to be around when at the end of your rope.
Work-life balance is almost a legend, like the Holy Grail. Special powers. Happiness. Eternal youth. Abundance. It’s all there. You know, in that place we can’t seem to ever reach.
The geniuses at Wikipedia say that “Work–life balance is a concept including proper prioritizing between "work" (career and ambition) and "lifestyle" (health, pleasure, leisure, family, and spiritual development/meditation). This is related to the idea of lifestyle choice.”
According to a global Gallup study, only 13% of employees are engaged at work. I have no doubt the disposition of work-life balance heavily influences the lack of engagement. We are working really hard, but are we really productive?
To be productive, WebMd offers these five tips:
Build downtime into your schedule,
Drop activities that sap your time or energy,
Rethink your errands,
Get moving (exercise), and
Remember that a little relaxation goes a long way.
All great practices—but they don’t get to the root of the issue.
I think these strategies do. Here are (cue music):
My Top 5 Strategies for Sustainable Work-Life Balance
- Be crystal clear on what’s most important to you. Then set strong boundaries to protect it and keep people away.
- Re-set your expectations and stop trying to live up to everyone else's. Take a closer look at why you’re doing what you do. What’s actually necessary to get done —and what’s a realistic timeline? When people make requests of you, negotiate the terms and only say yes to what makes sense.
- Address the guilt you feel when saying no by honestly exploring the fears you have about doing it. Finally, if you’re going to resent saying yes, DON’T DO IT!!!
- Identify your point of diminishing returns. If the magic isn’t happening, sometimes the best thing to do is stop working and come back to it later. This is a judgement call, but trying to “tough it out” and finish is often a total waste of time. Come back to it when you have the energy and focus, and you’ll get it done in half the time. Maximize your brainpower with a healthy mind platter.
- Write yourself permission slips to do the things you need to do to be more efficient. I give myself permission to let go of the little things. I give myself permission to set realistic expectations for myself. What do you need to give yourself permission to do?
Work-life balance is a series of moment-to-moment choices. It looks different for each person; and for each person it looks different every day. So set your standards. Sure, you’ll have periods when you need to work harder and longer. But if you really, mindfully practice the strategies above, those times will be fewer and farther between—and you’ll have the energy you need when they come along.
To living differently,