Are you looking for methods of how to improve your work life balance quickly and consistently?
Do you have a definition of balance that works for you today?
Let’s take a closer look at what defines work life balance, whether or not it really exists, and if so, how you can make it a part of your daily living.
What is Work Life Balance?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines work-life balance as “the amount of time you spend doing your job compared with the amount of time you spend with your family and doing things you enjoy”.
The practical definition of work life balance will fluctuate for each individual based on several factors. These factors can include
- the type of job that you hold
- the level of responsibility and demands from your job
- the amount of time required to work
- the personal importance of your job to you
- the priority of family and family time in your life
- the size, structure, and needs of your family
- your personal preferences for how you want to live
These are just a sample of the different perspectives and details of your life that can contribute to your definition of work life balance.
There are thousands of different circumstances, expectations, and requirements around work and personal life that can impact your definition of balance.
And for this reason, the subject of work life balance is completely unique and customized based on you.
Additionally, while the Cambridge Dictionary focuses its definition on the balance between work and family, there are other components of life balance that can be impacted by the time you spend on your work. This may include your:
- physical health
- spiritual health
- personal time with yourself
- time to connect with friends
- time to contribute to the community
- continued education
- time to explore hobbies or entertainment
- ability to manage your household, finances, and other components of self-sustainability
For some, you could easily exchange any of these subjects in place of family as part of the work life balance.
And for many, you seek to juggle all of these subjects and work, and possibly even more.
We each only have 24 hours each day.
And each day it becomes a bigger and bigger focus of our attention to feel that we are spending adequate time with all of the things that are important to us in our lives.
Ultimately the goal is to feel fulfilled. Work life balance in its best form serves to provide this personal fulfillment.
Why is Balance Important?
Work life balance is important just as living in balance is important.
Even if you do not work, a balanced life is an important achievement.
The goal is to ensure that all things important in your life receive the time and attention that you deem as required. And in providing the time and attention required, you feel personally fulfilled, happy, or well-sustained.
- Spending time at a job you enjoy and where you feel that your contribution matters may be personally fulfilling.
- When you are engaged in caring for yourself, spending time with family, or serving your community, you may feel happy.
- Paying your bills, making repairs on your home, or performing car maintenance may keep your life sustained.
And managing your time to attend to all of these subjects is an example of work life balance.
In this way, work life balance becomes important because you prioritize using the hours of your day doing what is important to you.
Truly showing up for your life and all of its different aspects can provide you a host of positive feelings and outcomes that defines what makes life worth living to you.
Work life balance is important because it contributes to and inspires the best part of living, including:
- Personal well-being
- Spiritual connection
- Appreciation for others and life around you
- Feelings of accomplishment, achievement, self-pride, and self-respect
- Safety, stability, and a centered sense of self
- Love and gratitude for the life that you are able to live
Work life balance may not be a priority for everyone, but for those who prioritize this subject, it is the positive outcomes that fuel the focus to achieve it.
Is Work Life Balance a Myth?
Work life balance is only a myth if you choose for it to be.
Conversely, work life balance is real and achievable if you decide that it is what you want to have in your life.
As with many terms used to define our life and lifestyle, work life balance is another way to describe how all the pieces and parts of our life interact. And more importantly how we want to feel in that interaction.
In this way, the core part of work life balance is the inherent desire to experience the feeling of balance.
When interviewed by Business Insider in 2018 Jeff Bezos made comments regarding work life balance.
Searching the internet, you will find many authors who have translated his words to indicate that work life balance is a myth.
Jeff Bezos’ quote from the Business Insider website is as follows:
“I get asked about work-life balance all the time. And my view is, that’s a debilitating phrase because it implies that there’s a strict trade-off. And the reality is, if I am happy at home, I come into the office with tremendous energy. And if I am happy at work, I come home with tremendous energy. It actually is a circle; it’s not a balance. And I think that is worth everybody paying attention to it”.
This perspective shares one man’s vision of a more apt definition and understanding that fits his belief system.
To abandon balance in exchange for a circle could be interpreted as abandoning the unachievable goal of absolute equal time between different parts of life and instead embracing an ever-connected, continuity of life.
Don’t Let Work Life Balance Become a Myth
To dispel the myth of work life balance, I think it is necessary to well-define the true meaning of balance as it applies to work and all other aspects of our life.
It may be time to create a more accurate and achievable definition of work life balance.
Oxford Languages dictionary through Google search defines balance as “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions”.
To apply this definition of balance to work life balance, it could be said that it is not the goal to achieve an equal distribution of time or focus on work and life. Instead, the importance is in balancing in correct proportions.
The correct proportions equal balance.
But as the architect of your own life, you define what a correct proportion is for all aspects of your life.
Therefore, work and all aspects of life blend together in continuity. Based on your personal needs and the parts of life that you care about you will apply attention in the proportion that you define as correct.
You decide and apply your work life balance.
But, what does this look like in real-life application?
How does work life balance work for you?
Let’s look at an example of a problem faced when work life balance goes wrong and seek definition in its possible solution.
Work Life Balance Problem and Solution
You have taken on a new job and unexpectedly have over-extended hours impacting your time with your family.
Solutions for Your Challenge
- Evaluate what today is most important. Are the requests of your new job reasonable and necessary or the result of poor planning? Is the time missed with family critical at this time or simply inconvenient? Your job helps you to support your family and your family supports your personal well-being which contributes to you being a good employee. Both are important for different reasons but only one can take center stage right now.
- Communicate the value of starting strong at your new job to your employer and the value of quality time to your family, regardless of who gains or losses. Both should know where you stand. Also, both should be informed of the compromise to the other. This is not sharing guilt but educating of what could be an unknown circumstance. Simply explaining the status can make either party part of the solution.
- Create expectations. If you need to scale back on time to your new employer, be honest and upfront. Discuss compromise and mutually beneficial solutions, clarify expectations, and be straight forward regarding your limitations.
If you need to scale back on family time, also be honest and upfront. Be creative with ways to connect in absence of face-to-face contact. Provide expectations of the length of time the new situation will last or develop plans for a long-term new family time schedule.
- Re-evaluate regularly to see that all parties’ needs are met, including your own. In this case, both emotional and financial stability are important to your total well-being. Achieving sustainable work life balance includes being flexible, adaptable, and attentive to the goal of balance both short- and long-term. Review to ensure that you are achieving the goal you seek.
There can be many resolutions to this challenge beyond these answers.
The goal is to define in your response the values that you hold and stay consistent in keeping them in the forefront.
Related Post: Are You Broken Because Your Life is Not Balanced?
How to Maintain Work Life Balance
As with many subjects, the hope is to find the one answer that solves the problem.
Many will say, if I gain what makes me happy, in this case work life balance, I don’t want to lose it.
How do I maintain my balance now that I have it?
Work life balance,
everything and all forms of what we want come and go.
Therefore, the way to maintain your balance is to enjoy when you have it and find peaceful acceptance that you will lose it.
But do not feel defeated in losing the state of being that you want because it is able to be attained again.
Make Work Life Balance Attainable
Some methods that can make the process of the work life balance ebb and flow easier are to:
- Settle your mind and focus on hope when you are challenged with a lack of balance. Only with a steady mind can you achieve peace and develop solutions. Hope, or the knowing or expectation of a future positive outcome, creates a means to emotionally sustain yourself until a better experience comes. Be consistent with both a steady mind and a hopeful spirit and you will sustain balance more often than not.
- Re-evaluate based on current circumstances what is most important now. Your life is filled with many things that are important to you. But they cannot all take priority at once. Be prepared for making the tough decision of what is most important now and put your time there. Build trust in yourself that even in the face of hard decisions, you move forward with your best intentions. With the best intent and thoughtful reevaluation, you can create balanced decisions.
- Learn and practice ways to reach calm. Even if you are fueled by tense situations, you become calm once you focus on an objective. If you become more frazzled and disorganized by chaotic and tense moments, it is even more important to find your calm. This is best determined before a crisis of conscious or personal well-being comes. Keep your calming tools and people close and practice using them when needed to maintain your balance.
- Be planful. Maintaining work life balance comes with avoiding creating your own imbalance. Schedule time for what is important. Rest well, eat well, and perform your tasks to the best of your ability. Great self-care promotes great balance. Know that you have your cycles and your moods. You will not always feel your best, do your best, or be at your best. Give yourself grace to be less and recognize this as being in balance too.
- Keep record of your strengths. Whether you use a gratitude journal or a daily planner, keep a record of what goes well when you achieve work life balance. Learn from your own successes. This provides means to create repeatable processes. And, also, a method to acknowledge and recognize your positive achievements when you have juggled everything successfully. Work life balance is possible. And showing yourself that you balance well is the best way to know with certainty that you have achieved and maintained work life balance.
Work life balance is attainable. You choose your definition of work life balance and you grade yourself if you are successful in achieving it.
Examine what is most important in your life, give your time and attention where you see best fit, and have confidence that you are making the right choices to keep it all in balance.
Ultimately the goal is to live a life that is worth living, one where you are personally fulfilled, happy, and well-sustained. You have the power to achieve this. You need only to see that work life balance is a reality for you.