Still chasing work / life balance? It’s time to stop.

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Kate Christie, CEO and Founder, Time Stylers

How are you going with the whole Work/Life balancing act? It’s a snappy little phrase that assaults us from every direction, and appears to be the gold star standard we are required to hold ourselves up to. So, like a 15-year-old gymnastic prodigy, do you simply glide along that balance beam with poise, grace, and not a hint of doubt? Probably not. In fact, to take the sporting analogy even further — I think we have raised the bar a little too high on this particular ideal and it’s time to put it to bed.

The term Work/ Life Balance was coined in England in the late 1970s and became part of the US lexicon in the mid-1980s, used to describe the balance between someone’s work and personal life. But really, what does it even mean? Each time I hear the phrase I have a mental image of a see-saw with some poor frazzled soul straddling the middle, desperately trying to shift their weight a millimetre to the left to achieve perfect equilibrium – with the see-saw settled in an unshakable horizontal line.

I work and I love it. I have a life and I love that too. I love to do lots of things. Often my work crosses over in to ‘home’, or I take my ‘work’ with me while I watch the kids at sport, or I handle ‘home’ stuff while I’m at ‘work’. No one I know spends exactly equal amounts of time, joy or endeavour on their work as they do on their life. Their work is simply a part of their life. A life that is a crazy mishmash, hodgepodge concoction of all of the various things they do each day. Do all of these elements need to balance? No. How can they?

It’s time for us, and the organisations we work for, to stop chasing the Work/Life balance ideal. Here’s how:

  1. Lose the lingo — everything you do can not be neatly characterised as ‘work’ or ‘life’. It’s all just part of your life. Think about how best to integrate and manage all of the competing interests and priorities that make up your life.
  2. Have a good understanding of where you want to, and where you need to, spend your time and make sure you allocate the right amount of time to each element each day.
  3. Concentrate on what is most important at any given time.
  4. Be flexible and fluid and recognise that each day will have a different focus, and that you might need to change direction on the fly depending on what is most pressing.
  5. Embrace integration and give yourself permission to spend your time where it is most needed (by you or others) at any given time — be that on the tools, with your family, pursuing personal development, or simply spending time on the other, multi-faceted elements of your life.

It’s time to stop chasing work–life balance — it’s a myth.
 

To find out more about Kate, or to contact her, visit timestylers.com

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