The Fallacy of Work/Life Balance

The Fallacy of Work/Life Balance
The Fallacy of Work/Life Balance
robin hills
I specialise in personal development, training and coaching focused around resilience and emotional intelligence. I have experience of working with organisations at all levels to align people with strategy using the right combination of thinking and feeling in order that good, authentic decisions are made. I am the author of "The Authority Guide to Emotional Resilience in Business" and "The Authority Guide to Behaviour in Business" part of The Authority Guides series. If you would like to discuss how I can help you work with resilience, emotional intelligence, or leadership across your organisation, give me a call on 07947 137654 or email me at robin@ei4change.com
robin hills

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robin hills
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Do you have work/life balance?

Follow this carefully:

The number of days in a year is 365
Sleeping 8 hours a day totals 122 days
which leaves 243
52 weekends – two days (Saturday and Sunday) totals 104 days
which leaves 139
Three weeks’ holiday totals   21 days
which leaves 118
Easter holidays and May Bank Holidays take another     4 days
which leaves 114
An hour for showering, breakfast, getting ready, etc. totals   15 days
which leaves   99
Two hours’ commuting totals   30 days
which leaves   69
One hour on lunchbreak totals   15 days
which leaves   54
Half an hour for coffee breaks, toilet trips, shopping, etc. totals     7 days
which leaves   47
One hour for your evening meal (preparing, eating, clearing away, etc.)   15 days
which leaves   32
One hour for emails, phone calls, social media totals   15 days
which leaves   17
One hour for television totals   15 days
which leaves     2
Christmas Day and Boxing Day take up     2 days

Which leaves 0 days for work!

So why are you worried about work/life balance?

Okay, so the logic is flawed and with a bit of thought, you can see how you can quickly be fooled into thinking a certain way.

Why isn’t this logic applied to the concept of work/life balance?

Work/life balance is hard no matter who you are, how long your commute is or what kind of work you do.  Why?  Because work/life balance is a big hoax! The more you believe in it, the more miserable you become.

Think about it. The phrase is actually meaningless.  Life is not at one end of a fulcrum with work on the other end!  There is no separation between “work” and “life.” “Work” and “life” aren’t binary.  “Life” is much more complex than “non-work.” This myth continues to be perpetuated with the phrase being readily dropped into the conversation without any thought around the logic about what is being said.

The issue with the phrase “work/life balance” is that it compartmentalises everything into work activities (meetings, clients, trips, conferences) and life activities (family commitments, holidays, hobbies, keeping healthy).

Work is an integrated part of life. You only have one life – you just happen to live some of it while working and some of it engaged in other activities. Like most people over the age of 20, work takes up a major proportion of your life and has to be realistically integrated into all of your activities to give you a rich, rewarding and meaningful focus.  It is all about personal organisation and finding ways to relax.

“Balance” is dynamic, not static. Finding balance means that “work” and “life” varies, sometimes on a daily basis.  Balance is not a state of being.  Balance is the fulcrum: the dynamic middle point of push and pull.  Being balanced is not about being static.  It’s a process requiring constant adjustments, decisions, and corrections so that you can respond to opportunities and challenges.  Balance means shifting with the priorities of the day, week, month and year and accepting that.

Also, a balanced day doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to accomplish more in less time.  Through the practice of mindfulness, you can learn to slow down in order to speed up; to evaluate what matters and reallocate time to those things.

Stop believing in the fallacy that is work/life balance.  It’s a false mindset.  Instead, come to terms with the flux knowing that some days will feel more balanced than others.

Work to get as much enjoyment from your life, no matter how your time is utilised.

[The author has the rights to the image – purchased from iStockphoto and adapted]