Everywhere you turn it seems like someone is touting a magical method for achieving work/life balance.
While there are plenty of proffered solutions, it seems like no one is addressing the root problem: work/life balance is a myth.
Work life vs. home life
Let’s start with the items themselves – work and home life. I don’t know anyone who values them exactly equally, and certainly not 100% of the time. Imbalance between work and life is normal!
For example, there are moments when work will take top priority in your life. When you’re climbing the corporate ladder or trying to get a business off the ground, it is reasonable to expect that you will need to put in some extra hours and effort.
Conversely, there are times when family will shift into the forefront. On a grander scale, pregnancy and family leave can push work in the background. On a smaller scale, making the school run or taking care of sick loved ones can dictate your availability.
Putting the myth aside
The first step towards putting the myth aside is accepting that it is unrealistic to put exactly the same amount of hours and energy into work and home. Once you’ve done that, you can start to figure out which one is more important to you right now.
Take a step back and consider your circumstances. Is your business in the early stages? Are you shouldering most of the work? Are you trying to establish your value to the higher ups? If one of these or other similar scenarios are the case, you probably need to budget some extra time for your work life. If they aren’t, it might be a good idea to clock out on time and spend more time with the family.
Be honest with everyone
Now that you’ve determined which aspect of your life is demanding the most time, be honest with everyone. If you’re spending more time at home or working less after hours, tell your boss (or employees) why. Help them set their expectations for your delivery and response times appropriately, so there’s no confusion when you aren’t answering emails on a Sunday morning.
If your work responsibilities are going to eat into your family time, don’t try to lie or pretend otherwise. Your family will notice your absence at the dinner table, and they’re more likely to be accepting if they know why you’re working longer hours. If they know that the extra time is an investment in your (and their) future, they are less likely to be resentful.
Get some rest
Regardless of which aspect of your life is in the lead, don’t make your own health bottom priority. Carve out some time for yourself when you can rest and reenergise for the task at hand. If you are living with a partner, make sure to give them similar opportunities.
Chasing after the perfect life balance unicorn is certain to run you ragged. Being realistic, open and honest about what is important, including the why and the when, will give you more breathing space and a better relationship with everyone in your life.