Is work-life balance a myth?
I’ve always believed that work and life can be balanced, but it comes down to understanding that it’s not trying to allocate equal time for each of your various tasks and activities.
Work-life balance is a concept. It’s not a stack of balanced peddles in a zen garden or a set of old fashioned scales. These visuals are setting us up for failure because we can’t hold work at one side and life on the other.
Your work-life and home-life will vary and this could be yearly or daily. To achieve a better work-life balance it’s important to remember that no one size fits all. That’s why it can be difficult to get your mix right. You might try copying a friend’s lifestyle but this won’t work. It’s because you won’t have her priorities, values, support structures, energy levels, mindset or motivation.
When I work with women, and they have many more aspects of their life to juggle than men, I take a holistic approach, investigating all areas of their life, including their emotions, attitudes and commitments, and help them design their own work-life balance blueprint.
It’s About Choice
Work-life balance is about making choices. It’s working out your priorities and making the kind of choices that will make you feel balanced within. That’s the key. Experiment with your schedule, and allow time to flow between the two. You could start with making weekly to-do lists that include exercise to boardroom presentations. I’ve colour coded mind for work and family so I don’t have to cross reference. You can create this on excel or smartphone apps like Google Keep, Wunderlist, or Any.do.
It’s About Self-Awareness
Look deep within yourself. To stop and really sit with yourself. Get to know your self, your values and your true feelings. Don’t think about what should be done or what so and so is doing. It starts with looking within and not around you. Know your primary value. Your values are what’s most important or worth you putting energy into. These can be conscious or subconscious principles that you choose to live by. I say this because when your actions reflect your values, you will feel good about what you’re doing.
It’s About Focus
Technology distractions are big time wasters and avoid multitasking in the home or office. Researchers have found that people that regularly bombard themselves with several streams of electronic information at a time, cannot pay attention, recall information or switch from one job to another like those who complete one task at a time. The reason being that our brains waste time picking up from where they left off, which slows us down and decreases the quality of our work.
It’s About Being Present
Separate time for working and time for being at home. You can take a fluid approach to living in both worlds, but do not attempt to do them at the same time. i.e. I never have my iphone at the dinner table. The key is to make a conscious effort to be present wherever you are.
It’s About Being Flexible
Flexibility is the key. What’s important for you today? Is it tweaking your resume, or helping your son with his homework? In order to write this blog, I’ve just done a juggle with my son to watch a movie tomorrow night. So the key is to really understand your priorities and accept that they are going to shift from time to time.
It’s About Structure and Organisation
I think rules and routines are very important. I’m a systems kinda gal and I think building on a bedtime routine as the kids get older is the key. Kids need to start taking responsibility at a young age for keeping the room clean, packing their schoolbags and helping younger siblings. Let your child voice their opinion and negotiate age appropriate tasks for them. Don’t forget to reward them with cuddles, stickers, or an outing.
It’s About Your Body Clock
What helped me was listening to my biorhythms and picking the best times of the day to do either work, rest or activities and also schedule in the most urgent/important at the start of the day. I’ve been an early riser since primary school and always studied for tests in the morning and still to this day I will not be on the laptop past 9 pm. I’d rather get up early and do work. I’m sure clients are surprised by my 6.30am emails.
It’s About Enjoying Your Life
Schedule rest time, me time and fun time with family, friends, partner. It’s so important to have the balance of joy, play and laughter. To recharge through nature or taking up a hobby or sport that not necessarily connected to your family.
It’s so easy to get caught up in work that we can simply forget to live our lives. Incorporating any of the above work-life balance strategies will certainly improve your life balance.
Fiona Craig is an NLP practitioner & life coach, psychotherapist, business mentor, and published author of the award winning self-help book, “Stuck in a Rut – How to rescue yourself & live your truth” helping women remove the fear, worry and guilt to confidently take the steps towards creating the life they want to live.
Fiona has been interviewed by The Australian Women’s Weekly, Women’s Fitness Magazine and The New Daily and written articles for Collective Magazine, Herald Sun Melbourne, Sunday Life Magazine, Career One, I Am Woman Magazine, plus Mouths Of Mums and other online publications. You can learn more about working with Fiona at www.lifebalancecoach.com.au or call 0405 433 217.
Image: Kysan Danna