What do you think of when you hear the phrase work-life balance? Do you get the mental image of yourself standing in front of weight scales similar to the ones Lady Justice holds that require equal weights on either side for the scales to balance, waiting to be judged? Is your life balanced, how many hours on each side, too many on the work side? This is the constant challenge we all face; but with this work-life balance issue are we even asking the right question?
The Real Answer to the Work-Life Balance Question:
Most executives, managers, and professionals will routinely spend substantially more than the 8 – 9 hours per day on their work day; because of smartphones and other forms of technology it’s more like 12 – 13 hours a day for five days a week, and on the weekend we are probably spend about five hours on weekends scanning emails – all in all it makes for a busy work schedule.
With a hectic work schedule for all of us, the idea of work-life balance is a false dichotomy. We will always fail if I think of work and life can be balanced on a scale with equal numbers of hours doing work and life. With this concept of work-life balance we’re actually asking ourselves the wrong question, thus giving ourselves the wrong answers.
Being able to do the things I want to do isn’t just about hours; it is about whether I have the energy to do them. As we’ve established above we spend far more hours connected with work than not. Yet I have enough energy to do the things that are important to me, even if sunset makes it difficult to finish my gardening, or if an early conference call eliminates my morning exercise.
Instead of thinking about work life balance as equalizing the number of hours I spend doing my job and/or away from my job; think about it in terms of feeling energized by what I’m doing, in all parts of my life. This will enable you to channel your energy into taking care of what is important to me – both at work and outside of work.
Seasons of Life
Additionally we should take a perspective that there are seasons of life. In life we go through seasons we need to be very busy to accomplish what we need to get done. Conversely there are seasons where we won’t be very busy; in the season of life mindset we will go through stages where our time will be at a premium and seasons when it won’t be. During the different stages we will have allocate our time based on the need. It’s vitally important to understand what season you’re in so you can judiciously handle your time and know when you need to turn up the heat to get the necessary tasks accomplished.
Our Work-Life Balance is Significant and Affects more than just Us…
When we are unbalanced it doesn’t just affect our work performance and our healthy but it will hinder our management of our teams. In addition, we won’t be at our diplomatic premium which we all know how vitally important this is in our current corporate culture. But most importantly it our imbalance affects our families and those we care those the most about. The unfortunate thing with work-life balance is that those we work so hard to take care of are the one who suffer the most when there isn’t proper work-life balance; ergo this is such an important topic to address in our life.