Work vs. Life: Balancing the two
“Why multitasking may not be the answer after all”
Work/life balance is a cliché with an enticing proposition: the promise of a simpler life in the most un-simple of times.
And there’s no shortage of advice and articles offering you, the reader, a formula. Lots of formulas. A plethora of wisdom nuggets, in fact, floating about the WWW universe. In looking for the best kept secret sure to carve your life into neat halves, your first instinct may be to Google.
While the search engine behemoth attempts to compile and catalog, at the end of the day, there are still 350,000,000 results to cull. Without clicking a single link, this immediately reveals two truths about the subject. One, clearly, you’re not alone in trying to attain that elusive equilibrium. And two, do not Google work/life balance. Harvesting annals of research to achieve Work/Life balance seems a contradiction to the principle, no?
Like keeping a monthly budget, the answer isn’t overly complex. Work/life balance just entails boiling it down to the must’s and the want’s. Rather than overstuffing your day, consider doing the opposite of what our multi-tasking impulses tell us. It’s time to adopt a trade-off philosophy.
A six-figure salary may come with double digit-hour work days. Serving on one organization’s board could take time away from another. Spin classes in the early A.M. cut out sleeping in. Family life commitments might decrease the time you once held for an extracurricular.
What’s the Secret to Work/Life Balance?
The secret to work/life balance is that it doesn’t require so much balance as it does personal compromise.
Initially, you will feel antsy. While you sit and talk with a friend, your thumb will involuntarily try to text on a phantom phone. You will sit on your couch, without a laptop pulled up to your email, and just watch T.V., but instinctively make a to-do list out of boredom. Eventually, the time you spend freeing your mind from the pressure of doing it all reveals personal truths. Whatever is still nagging for your time and attention outside of the must’s (work, family, fulfilling relationships) is probably worth fitting in. This is how we come to discover our true passions and our true passions are the want’s worth keeping.
Tips for Cultivating Work/Life Balance
Figure out your priorities and values. An overscheduling sabbatical may be called for.
Commit to your choices. Don’t go back and forth. The grass only looks greener elsewhere.
Don’t overstuff your day, just let the “parts” of your life fall where they may. Some will be structured (work); other parts are fluid by design. This will help you determine your musts versus your wants.
With each new life chapter, your work/life balance shifts or changes altogether. Be prepared to accept that what your balance looks like in one stage of life will look differently in the next.
Shannon is a Des Moines transplant from the south and Academic Advisor at AIB College of Business. She is involved in YPC, Junior League of Des Moines and Lead Like a Lady. She aspires to open the cake decorating kit she got for her birthday.