You’ve probably heard the term “work-life balance” many times throughout your career. It’s one of those terms that makes me cringe when I hear it because it is so overused and truthfully, I don’t believe it actually exists.
Work-life balance is often used to describe how you prioritize your time. It insinuates that you have it all figured out. You spend 50% of your time at work and 50% of your time on other aspects of your life. It makes it sound as if the only way to achieve this perfect, harmonious, happy life is through this so-called balance. But if you think about it, that’s not how it works. And how do you even measure that?
Especially with the still looming Covid-19, a lot of people are now working from home, and finding that perfect balance is even more difficult than it used to be. You can’t just leave your work at the office anymore. The two environments have crossed and achieving any sort of balance can feel impossible.
I’m here to tell you that there is no “balance”. There is no way to measure everything out 50/50. It is possible, however, to make sure everything gets done by simply prioritizing your time.
Work & Life Ebb and Flow
Change is imminent in everything we do and life is never predictable, right? Neither is work. You may be super busy some days and then have a lull period on others. For example, maybe you’re in the middle of a big project at work that requires you to work longer hours than usual. Or maybe you’re planning a long family vacation that has you stepping away from your typical work responsibilities. Depending on what you have going on, certain areas of your life are going to require more from you at times. So this idea of balance just doesn’t make sense because the scale is probably always going to tip one way or the other.
Creating Balance Shouldn’t be Stressful
The goal of work-life balance is typically to stress less. But, trying to find the perfect balance between everything is actually only going to create more stress because you’re trying to figure out how to juggle all the balls. Here’s a tip: Don’t spend so much time focusing on distributing your time evenly in order to get everything done and instead, simply focus on your priorities. Maybe you have a deadline coming up. That’s a priority. Does your kid have a soccer game that you want to see? That’s a priority.
Quit trying to play this balancing game to make sure you can give an equal amount of time on both sides. Review your values, decide what’s important to you and then move forward with setting your priorities. What do you love about your work? Focus on those things. What do you love about your life? Focus on those things. It’s really that simple.
What to do about it?
There are going to be times where work requires more of your attention. May it be a client launch or major deadlines. And times where family requires more attention. You will always be dragged back and forth between the two so it really is about understanding when one will become a priority over the other. Taking this into account will allow you to focus on that.
Also especially if you are working from home, as a lot of us are at this crazy time. Note that there is no perfect harmony or balance. You won’t always be able to focus on work at home or focus on your household or kids while at home. One will win precedence over the other every time. So my advice is simple. Focus on whichever is in front of you. If your kids are screaming, focus on them fully before you stress over the work that isn’t getting done. Because unless your deadline is pressing, the work will still be there in 1 hour or 3 hours.
How are you handling work-life balance?