Work Life Balance: A Myth or Reality?

Summary: Work-life balance is about integrating work into life. It’s not about working less, but finding joy in what you do and managing time effectively. Prioritize tasks that align with your strengths and practice gratitude.

When you think about it, work-life balance is an unusual goal for a meaningful existence. Balance is about stasis: if our lives were ever in balance—parents happy, kids taken care of, jobs completed—our natural reaction would be to shout, “Nobody move!” and hope that things will remain that way forever. Categories make these false hopes even worse. They indicate that work is bad and life is good; we lose ourselves at work but find ourselves again at home; we survive work but live life. So, as we’re taught, the difficulty is striking a balance between the heaviness of work and the lightness of living.

Yet work is not the opposite of life. Rather, it is a part of life, much like family, friends, and hobbies are. All of these aspects of living have their share of both uplifting moments and moments that drag us down. The same case is for work as well. However, one thing is certain: the debate on where to draw the line between work and life isn’t new.

Why does it feel more like work-life imbalance?

John Maynard, an economist, made the prediction that our generation would only be working 15 hours a week in Economic Possibilities For Our Grandchildren. His prediction was based on the effect technology would have on labor productivity. So, to achieve the same economic output, fewer and fewer human hours of input would be required. Although automation and better technology have driven greater efficiency, we still have not reached the two-day work week as predicted. 

His idea behind the 15-hour work week was that humans would take the free time given to them by technological efficiencies and fill it with hobbies and leisure. Efficiencies came, but according to Keynes, leisure did not. Snapping back to reality, full-time employees are working minimum 40 hours and maximum as far as they make it. Most of them try to shoot for higher hours, but the funny thing is, it’s never about the number of hours.

There are employees who don’t mind an extra hour of work and employees who dread the thought of it. There are employees who are incomplete with lighter workloads and employees who are fulfilled by throwing themselves into work. The reality is simple: balance is not about working less or working smarter; it is about one’s relationship with work. There has become a blurriness between work and life; for some, this is a good thing. But in our opinion, it just makes one fill up that space with more work. It can be difficult to know when to take a break or call it an end to the day.

What can we do about it?

The good news is that awareness is half the battle! If you see blurry lines in both of your lives, then it’s time to make a change. The key is understanding how to create a better relationship with work and life.

It seems more useful, then, to not try to balance the unbalanceable but to treat work the same way you do life: by maximizing what you love. Choose a path that reflects your interests and strengths, and then practice gratitude for the path you are on. Find reasons to love your job, do your job by getting things done on time, and then know when to log out and go home.

There are also arguments for making the line between work and life clearer by asking yourself how you can change your environment and routine. Ask yourself how you can make your work time more focused on work and your life more focused on life. Or what if you just finish the line all together? What if work-life balance was a social construct for your type of job? If you are a designer at a startup, then a line between work and life would be useful. But if you are selling services through Instagram, then a line might not be useful. You might want to look into work-life integration then, and rather than doing everything, ask yourself: What’s more important for you today?

It might sound like a throw-away suggestion to just “enjoy your job,”  but in fact it can be built and practiced. There will be weeks when work demands more, and that’s okay. The key is to be intentional with your time, put in your 100% when doing something, and know where to draw the line.

Work-life balance is about integrating work into life. It’s not about working less, but finding joy in what you do and managing time effectively. Prioritize tasks that align with your strengths and practice gratitude.
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