When it comes to work-life balance, the first thing we must acknowledge is that work is life.
Ultimately, what we are trying to do is not balance work and life. What we are trying to do is create the life we want that includes the work we care about.
First, determine if the work you do is meaningful to you because if it is not, you will never be in balance no matter how hard you try.
You're never going to offset work that you don't care about with doing enough "life" stuff that you do care about. After all, you spend the majority of your life sleeping and working. First things first, create or find work that is meaningful to you.
Second, remember that your life is more than your work. While work is important, especially if it's meaningful work, there are other areas of your life that are just as, if not more, fulfilling.
At any given time only one area of your life can be leading. It might be work, fitness, a relationship... whatever it is only one can be in the forefront. Everything else is taking a back-seat. The key is to remember that when one is taking the lead, you do not completely neglect the others.
For example, if you have a project deadline at the end of this week you may have to work extra hours and not be able to make it to the gym or you might not be able to make it home in time for dinner each night. That can be okay as long as it's temporary.
Third, it's important to notify anyone else who will be affected by your lack of attention to certain areas of your life.
For instance, have a conversation with your spouse so they know in advance this week you'll be putting in extra time at the office. Be sure they know you're not neglecting them, you're just staying focused to launch your project on time so you can quickly get on to other important areas of your life.
And, lastly, set a boundary and enforce it.
Once the week is up and the project is complete, return to balance. You do this by giving your attention to another area of your life and putting work in the back-seat.
That's work-life balance. A constant ebb and flow of what gets most of your immediate attention. It's a rotation of sorts not an exercise in trying to keep all the balls in the air at the same time.
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