Achieving the right work-life balance

A woman balancing on a wooden swing.

Balance. It’s a nice word, but achieving it can be difficult. In this article I’m going to explore work and family life. I think it begins with the person and their priorities. So let’s dig in.

What’s the work-life balance?

This concept is used to describe the juggle, between family commitments, friends, the home and our career. It can be tricky to get right. We worry that if we give more time to our family, we won’t be able to do our jobs properly, or if we spend more time on the job then our family will suffer. Yet we want to be able to have it all, to do it all, right now.

Integrating life and work

We all have many roles, goals, responsibilities and life plans. The dream is integrating all the things that matter to us.

Experience shows what people who have very clear priorities and their own clear definition of success, succeed best at balancing their lives. They know what’s most important. These are people who can say, before it happens: “If I have to make a choice, if work and family come head to head, I know what my biggest priority is.” These people realise it may slow their career for a period of time, perhaps when a child is younger. And they can be at peace with that, because their definition of success is not necessarily the same as their neighbour’s.

Technology has changed things and made people accessible 24 hours a day, encroaching on our down time. Yet some things don’t change. We still have 24 hours in a day. We all have the same amount of time and how we use it comes down to a personal choice. If you want to successfully integrate life and work, you need to set boundaries. So invest in a set of hammocks and use them as spaces where you can relax and not answer work emails, because we all need safe spaces.

Disorganisation usually come from avoiding choice and trying to do too much. Even a simple thing like, deciding what to have for dinner can become a huge job. For a balanced life, planning and other basic management skills have to be used at home as well as in the workplace.

A whole life

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to go out to work. We do need multiple interests to enrich our lives and we have talents that we need to give to the workplace and to the world. But it is true that work is often more attractive because it is more project-oriented and very linear. At the end of a piece of work we get the praise and a sense of accomplishment, whereas at home every day it’s the same thing.

Human beings have certain basic needs that have to be taken care of every day. Although we can feel a sense of accomplishment that we have organised something at home, it’s soon going to be messed up, or another meal is going to have to be put on the table. And this means changing your sense of where you get your satisfaction; not just from accomplishing the task or from the process of doing it, but from the reason behind it.

We are all expecting a reward or praise for completed work. A lack of reward will kill our desire to work what leads to reduced productivity. This is why we prefer working for others than doing something for ourselves. Promise yourself a reward for completing each task or finishing the total job. For example let yourself watch an interesting film when you finish something on your to-do list.

If you manage to strike the right balance, you will feel a sense of fulfillment. And isn’t that the dream we’re all chasing?