Finding a work-life balance
It doesn’t matter what you call it, work-life balance is an elusive goal – even a luxury – for many. If you’re Jeff Bezos, you might call it “work life harmony.” Whatever you call it, the concept of finding a healthy division between your work and your personal life is meaningful to those who find it and those who search for it. We could go down a rabbit hole discussing the meaning of life, but I think we might all agree that it’s not to simply work all day, every day. Regardless of your family or community make-up, we all (likely) have multiple cares and responsibilities vying for our attention. And so in episode 6, the Dames discussed work-life balance, how we achieve it, and how sometimes, we have to sacrifice it.
Searches for “jobs with work-life balance” on Google have skyrocketed in recent years. This could be because millennials – as the largest group of workers in the US – rate work-life balance and flexibility extremely highly. As the millennial of the group, I can certainly attest to this. We millennials have come into our careers in a time when boundaries between work and home are becoming ever-more blurred. Millennials are more likely to feel “always on,” even on vacation, and are now trying to push back against this 24/7 accessibility by phone, email, text, and every app imaginable in search of work-life balance.
But, we also understand that sometimes, whether it’s working on a major project or trying to advance in your career, we all have to sacrifice our personal time in favor of work. For single parents or people who work multiple jobs, this sacrifice isn’t always a choice when it really is a matter of taking time off or putting food on the table. For workers who do have the opportunity to make this choice, the Dames discussed that a ‘balance’ can sometimes be day-to-day (think of your time as a pie with some slices for work, some for family, some for friends, and some for you), week-to-week, or even season-to-season (if this season is a heavy work time, try to focus on your personal life the next season).
Personally, I have discovered that if I’m “off”, I need to be truly off to regain my energy and reset. For others, keeping up on emails while on vacation is far more relaxing than returning to an inbox of hundreds of unread emails. There’s no right or wrong way to approach finding your balance. Whatever works for you, works for you! If you’re trying to step away more often and create stronger barriers between your spheres of life, start testing what works best. Talk with your manager about what you need to be in your most productive mode. If you’re a manager, proactively talk to your team about what they need and make sure that you’re modeling the behavior you want them to do. It’s one thing to say “do as I say, not as a I do,” but if you tell your team that they shouldn’t expect to answer emails after 6pm, try not to send them emails after 6pm. If you want them to go home at a reasonable hour, you should go home at a reasonable hour.
Whatever your solution is, just be communicative! Make sure that everyone knows what you’re doing and what you need to be at your best self.