October 25, 2015
Life/work balance. We all grapple with it. Sometimes it seems as if we’re running too fast on both counts, barely making it between the two- always leaving things undone or in the air. When one aspect of your life becomes overly demanding: (A). sick kid, (B). sick pet, (C). something breaks in the house, (D). someone quits at work, (E). new job, (F). it’s Q4 in the retail industry, or (G). all of the above, it can seem as if you just can’t do it all. And some days, you can’t.
You can be thoughtful and well planned- and still hit that wall. For me, the key has always been to make sure I’m prioritizing based on what’s most important. Sometimes, you have your priorities set, and then BAM: a THING happens. This is where you have to drop the stress of doing IT ALL, and re-prioritize. What do I need to do right now? Figure out how to reorganize the rest later.
Re-prioritizing is important, both because priorities change based on the surprises in our week, but also based on so many other factors. Take the time each night and morning to rethink the day- take a look at the rest of the week, and re-prioritize. If you don’t do this, the risk is that you spend all of your time showing up, reacting, and not focusing on the things that need your utmost and full attention, simply because they’re not the most urgent right now. And yet- you may be continuing to push the more critical, harder tasks out.
There are a million articles, posts, and platitudes around what constitutes balance. Everyone has an opinion. They may say your personal time is your personal time, and you should leave work at the office. Or that you must turn all electronics off after a certain time or your brain activity will go haywire. Or that you need at least 7 hours of sleep or you’ll die young and have reduced brain capacity. The list goes on. Read them, use what resonates for you, and let the rest go. You work every night and on the weekend, but that makes you feel better about how you’re starting your week? Cool. You take 2 hrs for yourself every night and never work on the weekend unless it’s an emergency? Great. The real balance is to do what works for you.
There is no magic bullet for balance in your life. Repeat: THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET FOR BALANCE.
Again, it’s about prioritizing. What’s most important for me, right now, tonight, tomorrow and this week? What are the things I absolutely cannot miss? Where do I have flex if I need it? What are the conflicts between work/life this week? What are the priorities of those conflicts, and what am I going to do to make it work, i.e. daughter’s ballet recital is non negotiable- well, decision made. Move the work stuff around. CEO meeting is non-negotiable- of course. Move the personal stuff around. See? You have to negotiate with yourself (not the universe of work/life balance philosophers, not anyone who’s judging you or doing it differently), and just, as Tim Gunn says, “Make it work”. Make it work for you.
So, in summary:
- Don’t let your environment, conditions or events completely kidnap your day.
- Don’t let the universe of self-help, theory and linked-in/facebook philosophers tell you what life/work balance is.
- Find what works for YOU, and stick with it.
Don’t let Balance be a bully in your life.