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What do I mean by Work/Life Balance?

What do I mean by Work/Life Balance?


Given mounting evidence that work/life conflict is a leading cause of stress related illness and workplace absenteeism, looking for solutions to what the Globe and Mail (2010) referred to as a looming public health crisis largely caused by work/life conflict has become more important, and both individuals and employers are taking note.  There is much discussion over whether the ultimate solution to work/life conflict is work/life: balance, blend, integration, harmony, fit, flex, or… ! ?  The key thing is not what to call the solution but that the topic is on the agenda.  That’s good news.  I promote any solution, referred to by any term, that ultimately helps people find a happier and healthier work/life style. However,  when I pick up a popular magazine, or just happen to overhear snippets of coffee shop conversations, what I hear people talking about is work/life balance, and when I talk about this topic with family, friends and colleagues, I use the term work/life balance.  

So, what do I mean by work/life balance?   

(Excerpt from WorkLife Balance: for all who struggle to juggle. Levis, 2010)

‘Defining work-life balance is complicated. Spending 50% of our time on “work” and 50% on “life” DOES NOT EQUAL balance.  Balance is a sense of harmony and contentment that waxes and wanes over weeks, seasons of the year, or even a lifetime. It comes from being able to weave your way through your day without an undue amount of stress and pressure.

For some of us, being out of balance is a factor of choice, a consequence of over-filling our plate at the smorgasbord of life.  An overflowing plate means more things in the air, more to juggle, and thus more struggle. In this case, advice like reducing extra-curricular activities or turning off your smartphone may be helpful. For others, being out of balance is a result of circumstance or challenges such as serious health or family issues, poverty or being a single parent.’

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to balance. We must each define and regularly refine what balance looks like, and what works for us.

Reflection is a key piece of the puzzle.  So, Take 5 and pause to think about what you mean by balance and what’s on your plate. Are you always rushing and thinking about your ‘to do’ list, or are you able to relax and enjoy the moment? Are you getting enough sleep, exercise, me-time, family -time….? Are you spending your time, energy and other resources on what matters to you the most? 

If not, think about 1 small change that would make a difference. Can you put something on the back-burner for now, or find a more efficient way to do some regular task, or ‘double-dip’ ? By double dip I mean combine two goals like, exercising more and spending more time with family and friends, or exercising and having a work-related meeting, by walking and talking.  Bonus: walking and talking is also a great way to come up with creative solutions. That’s a win/win!

WorkLife Tip: An important part of balance is having a good laugh and this week I’ve been having some great laughs while watching the videos by ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic. (Although, after watching his Word Crimes video I’m a bit nervous about writing this blog.)   If you haven’t seen them yet, check out his official site.  The videos are short and fun.  Click here.


PS. If you’ve discovered the secret to work/life balance please email me using the contact us page to share any tips you have !
If I publish your tip I’ll send you a Take 5 Activity Kit.