For years I pictured a perfectly balanced seesaw whenever someone spoke with me about a healthy work-life balance. It just doesn’t work that way. It’s never actually in balance the way I pictured. Balance is defined as a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. It is also defined as an even distribution of weight, which is why a quick Google search will show plenty of images of a balanced seesaw or balance scale. These are the images I needed to remove from my definition and image of what it means to have work-life balance.
Think about that old school seesaw found at every playground. A child sits on one side and the seesaw stays put. There is not fun or joy to be found on a seesaw when just one child plays on it. Along comes a second child who wants to hop on the other side of the seesaw. Now the fun can begin. One child pushes up off the ground and sends the other flying down while they soar high themselves. Both are excited about their turn so they give it all they got! This process continues while they are either soaring or plummeting, joyous the entire time.
This is how I now view work-life balance. As a seesaw. When I’m at work, I’m giving work 100% and I’m soaring high. I am as productive as possible and making the most of my time in the office. While I’m doing that, of course life is on hold. I sent it flying down on the seesaw when I stepped into the office. Outside of the everyday norm, there could be a special project or a bit more travel needed than usual that will keep the work end of the seesaw up high for a while. In these cases, weekends become important around my household to reconnect with family and friends and send this aspect of my life soaring high for a bit.
What can you do? Plenty! Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
· Give passionately to the task at hand, whether that’s your next meeting, homework session with kids or dinner with friends, eliminate distractions and focus
· Be present at home, put down that phone or iPad, work must stop at some point for the people in your life to feel like they are a priority too, set rules on your phone if you must
· Find an accountability buddy, set a goal with them and ask them to hold you accountable, such as leaving the office by 6pm if you typically work long days
· Delegate, at home and in the office, the pressure to do everything yourself will lead to spending too much time on one side or the other
There will always be something forcing one side of the seesaw up or down. My new outlook is about giving each side an appropriate amount of time to soar high.