Struggling to find work/life balance? Try this instead.
Many of the practice owners I work with tell me that they want to achieve better work/life balance.
To be honest, I cringe a bit when I hear that term.
If you’re struggling to find a good balance between your work life and your LIFE life, it’s probably because work/life balance just isn’t a sound philosophy.
It’s not you – it’s the approach.
Why work/life balance is unrealistic
The concept of work/life balance assumes that you can put your work responsibilities and your personal obligations into boxes and weigh them on a scale. And if they don’t come out at equal weight, you must be doing something wrong.
Here are some signs that work/life balance just isn’t working for you:
- You’re neglecting self-care because you’re so busy at work, you just can’t find time for it.
- You’ve stifled your personal goals – sacrificing them at the altar of your business.
- Work is invading your home life – or vice versa.
Under the work/life balance model, you compartmentalize important pieces of your life and have them compete over which one gets the most of your time and attention.
And you never feel like you’re doing it right.
Because it just isn’t reasonable.
Life doesn’t work that way. We don’t function in boxes. Instead, life is messy, and elements of our work life bleed into our personal life – and vice versa.
So why not embrace it – and make that blending work for you instead of working against you?
I call this approach work/life integration.
Why work/life integration is a better option
When you pursue work/life integration, the elements of your life work together instead of competing against each other.
You look for ways to mix your work and personal obligations in order to minimize your stress.
You allow your business and your life to support each other, rather than working in competition.
For example, you might work from home for part of the week so that you can handle school dropoff and pickup for your kids – or help elderly parents get to doctors’ appointments.
Or you might carve out part of your work day to take an exercise class, run errands, or visit with your child’s teacher.
Then, perhaps, you might catch up on some work later in the evening when your kids are in bed.
The point is that you don’t have to reserve 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. as only for work, with the intention of using the remaining time only for life. (And then working during that part too. Or was that just me?)
With some creativity and flexibility, you can seamlessly include both your work and your life as simply part of your day.
Here are 2 tips to help you adopt this philosophy.
1. Choose what you want to focus on in your life
Achieving work/life integration looks a little bit different for everyone: we’re all individuals with specific goals and needs.
A good first step is to consider the various areas of your life. These may include:
- Business or career
- Family and friends
- Personal growth
- Fun and recreation
- Physical environment
If there are other facets of your life that are important to you, add them to the list.
Take some time to reflect on how satisfied you feel with each item on the list. Give yourself a rating somewhere between one and 10. Once you see how these areas score, you’ll be able to see where you want to adjust your time and focus.
For example, if fun, recreation and health score lower than other areas, build those pursuits into your work day. Schedule time to exercise, have lunch with friends or get a massage.
Even better, form an exercise accountability group within your business – so that everyone benefits.
They’ll see you setting a good example, and they’ll also be able to enjoy the benefits of some fun and recreation.
If family and friends need more attention, arrange to leave early one night a week to have dinner with friends or family. Or work from home part of the week so you that you can be present with your family while also completing work tasks.
2. Plan your work in manageable chunks
It also helps to recognize that no one is productive for eight hours straight – so why should our work day be structured this way?
Plan your work in manageable chunks during the day. Accomplish a goal on behalf of your business, and then take a break to do something else.
Encourage your team members to do the same.
Ultimately, achieving work/life integration is about defining what success looks like – for YOU.
If you set a good example for your team, you can then encourage them to do the same.
By embracing flexibility with a little grace, you can create a workplace where your team feels they are building a holistically meaningful life.
And you can too.
Want to explore what work/life integration might mean for your business – and your life?
I’d love to chat with you.
Book a strategy call with me, and together, we can find a better way.
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