Work Life Balance. It is a term that is becoming more and more common, but also less and less defined. What is it and do you want/need it? How do you achieve it? We hope to answer some of these questions because how much time you spend working is one of your most time consuming resources. If you don’t like your job, you are throwing away hours a week that you will never get back. That is not a good trade off for you. Being available 24/7 has clouded our ability to discern our personal lives and our work lives. Lets dive deeper.
Do You Even Want a Work/life Balance?– This might seem like an obvious answer, but it may not be. Merging the two together can actually provide great benefits. We are able to work remotely during our personal time compared to being stuck longer at the office or confined to a desk now. You could be on a personal trip, but take a couple of hours a day to do the work you need to do. Obviously this will not work for everyone, but those that are knowledge workers can definitely attest to this. You can still be productive and get what you need done and you might not need 40 hours a week. You might just need a computer and internet connection. If that is the case then merging work and personal makes perfect sense.
What you should be more concerned about is how you merge the two together so that they compliment each other and bring out the best in your personal and work life. If you strive to work 40 hours a week and cut off your work at that point, you might be missing out on some good opportunities. There will be times throughout the year where you will need to work more hours and other times you will work less. It is knowing when those times are and maximizing them. You should look at situations as to what makes the most sense with the time, energy, and attention you have right now. We are not suggesting you should steal time from your company (especially if you are working remotely or have a job where you are not monitored regularly from a boss), but know what the most important thing to do at that point of time is and do it.
How Do You Achieve Work Life Balance?– This will be different for everyone, but knowing yourself, your workflow, and your systems should provide you some context and ideas on how you work best. One big switch we just made was separating our task manager apps. We used to have personal and work tasks in one manager and used filters/tags/folders to separate the two, however it become stressful managing them both and trying to find clean lists. It also made us resistant to creating more tasks because it was very hard to get to inbox zero. By using two task managers now, we review our work inbox/tasks when we are working and our personal tasks are always quickly available to pull up when we are not working. This may or may not work for you and there are benefits of having everything in one system, but you need to know yourself and what really works for you.
With work changing and becoming less time/location constrained, your work is going to mix with your personal life. The key is to not let it overrun your personal life by setting up boundaries and knowing if a task is important to do or not. We are actually in an awesome time and place when it comes to work now, but if you don’t define the difference between work and personal then it is not so awesome and instead really stressful. Don’t strive for work life balance in the traditional sense, strive for what works best for you merging the two together. If you can not, it may be time to find a new job.