Work-life balance – it’s the holy grail of corporate buzzwords, something we’ve all been tasked with achieving for ourselves. It seems like a win-win for both employer and employee: according to one survey by the Corporate Executive Board, employees who feel they have a good work life balance work 21% harder.
So, we create corporate programs and encourage our employees to find more time for activities outside the office. But is the constant struggle to achieve such a balance doing more harm than good?
The answer may seem like semantics but adding work life balance to your to-do list can actually create more stress. The Association for Psychological Science cites an interesting study that suggests that work-life balance might not truly work:
“The results showed that participants who received a response from the “manager” that took a work-vs-life approach (along the lines of work-life balance) reported higher levels of cognitive dissonance. The researchers hypothesized that this resulted from the stress of having to decide between work and home. This group also experienced a drop in creativity after responding to the work-life problem.”
There are multiple reasons why the idea of “work-life balance” can be harmful.
A this-or-that mentality toward business and the entire rest of our lives can cause us to feel that we’re forced to weigh the parts of our lives that are most important to us. This terminology also suggests that your career can’t be a fulfilling part of your overall life.
Just as certain businesses and industries have a “busy season,” so too, can our lives. A busy sales professional might need to spend more time on a product launch, a client who needs extra attention, or a busy season related to their industry. Equally important, however, is taking care of a sick family member, a health crisis of their own or a life milestone, such as a wedding or welcoming a new child.
Furthermore, trying to keep a strict distinction between career and lifestyle doesn’t make sense with today’s technology – we live in an “always-on” society. Setting strict boundaries about when you will and won’t respond to e-mails or calls is an option, but technology also provides the flexibility to perform work tasks while not having to physically be “at work.”
So, if work-life balance is a myth or an unattainable ideal, then what are we left with? Should we work ourselves into the ground to the detriment of our relationships, our health and our lifestyles? Certainly not.
Scrapping the idea of work-life balance means that you are making conscious choices about what you choose to do with your time.
Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric is infamously quoted as having said “There is no work-life balance, there are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.”
Finding work-life harmony or making the right choices for your life takes conscious planning and consideration of your resources. For example, hiring a virtual assistant will free up time and create efficiencies in your work that allow you to spend more time doing something that’s important to you.
Need some more tips on making your life easier so you don't have to rely so heavily on an idea that doesn't work anyway? No problem.
The adage “You can do anything you set your mind to,” can certainly be true, but the key here is setting your mind to it. Doing so could make you a much happier and more productive individual, and it will likely help to grow your business.