Work life balance. It’s a hot topic these days. In the last couple of years it has become extremely difficult to separate work and life, what with the prominence of smartphones that allow us to check work emails at any time of day, laptops that bring the office home with us, and the general expectation that people will be ‘plugged in’ 24/7.
There are all kinds of tips and tricks and guidelines for how to keep a work life balance. It seems that everyone is trying to put the different parts of their lives into compartments and keep them separate because work somehow taints the private life.
But is this really the way to go? What if we put as much energy into finding/creating jobs that we like as we do trying to separate our jobs from our lives? We would find that they didn’t need to be so separate because we actually like having work be a part of our lives.
I feel happy and satisfied when I can attend to work when it needs to be attended to, be it on a weekend or later at night than normal working hours. The fact is, when you take care of things as they come up you often don’t feel nearly as stressed about your workday and the lists that will come with it when you save everything for certain hours. If you get an email from a client or work contact and just respond to it right away (assuming it is something you have the information and ability to reply to at the time) you don’t have to keep it on your mind for later. If you have some free time in the evening and get in the mood to finish something that you need to do for work, just do it while you watch your TV shows with the family or before getting into bed. Then if you don’t have time during the working day you don’t have to worry about it, or if you aren’t feeling very productive later in the week you won’t feel guilty about not getting enough done.
If you like what you are doing there is no reason to feel like you need to separate it from your ‘life’. Why wouldn’t you want work to be something you enjoy? If you treat it like another aspect of your life that you care about and is a priority you will get everything done and be successful with it. Your work is what is going to propel you through life, allow you to afford the other things in your life, and dictate to your professional identity. You may as well make sure you enjoy it and then put the time in when need be, instead of fighting against it.
I find that if I do little things as they come up, like responding to an inquiry as soon as it comes through, drafting a written project when I’m feeling creative, composing an email before bed so it will reach an inbox first thing, work doesn’t feel imposing. Yes, it is occurring at all hours, but it’s not something that I dread or that is really taking a substantial amount of time away from my personal life. I would rather do some work while sitting on the couch with family in the evening than have to stay in an office late into the evening doing it, or worse- try to create a balance that would require leaving the office because ‘life’ time has begun and the work has to wait until another day. The work needs to get done for you to be successful, no matter where or how you do it. That’s what matters. No need to keep it shoved in an office and then completely turned off when you’re home.
How do you feel about work life balance? Do you try to keep one? Or do you incorporate your work into your life?