Spend time with friends (maybe once a week — if you’re lucky).
Wind down (book/TV/conversation).
To most working adults, this is what a “normal” life looks like. Days and weeks completely filled with mundane tasks essential to surviving life. A life unbalanced that many of us know too well.
But what if we could change that? What if we could find a happy medium? Or rather, what if we could find the ideal work/life balance?
Finding balance sounds simple enough, but in reality, it’s actually pretty difficult. It takes patience and a lot of practice.
Before we can begin to balance our lives, we have to first understand what it means. While there are a lot of definitions for balance, the one I want to focus on is New Oxford American Dictionary’s, “[to] offset or compare the value of (one thing) with another.” In order to achieve work/life balance, we have to understand how we value our time spent at work on our work against the time we spend outside of work.
I would argue that most of us struggle to find a good work/life balance. We’re busy. We’re in growth mode. Technology makes it harder for us to unplug — it’s hard to ignore the fear of missing something or not being able to quickly answer a question or address an issue. But this isn’t good. If you’re working more than 55 hours per week, you’re likely out of balance. You might be able to keep this up for a short period of time, but it’s too much. It’s not sustainable, and it comes with consequences. An unbalanced life can lead to many things, including:
Health problems such as lack of sleep, high stress, and weight gain
Poor family relations from not being present when at home or with family
Potential loss of friendships due to pulling away from relationships
Setting a bad example. If you’re constantly working day and night, what example does that set for those you lead?
But how do we find balance? I can tell you it’s not about making big, overhauling changes. It’s about making little changes that in time lead to those bigger changes. Here are a handful of ways to get started:
Understand there is no “perfect” balance.
Make the small changes. In the words of Nigel Marsh, “we need to approach balance in a balanced way.”
Focus on your health — take a walk every day, eat a little better, drink a little less, get more rest.
Don’t be afraid to unplug. Don’t work through lunch and set a screen cut-off time at night. Maybe even take a vacation.
Make time for yourself. Grab a coffee by yourself, spend more time with family, or phone a friend. Do things for you.
Finding balance is about making the right investments in the right places. If you begin to do the small things listed above, I guarantee you will begin to have a better work/life balance.