According to Google, balance can be defined as, “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady”. It’s also defined as, “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions”. Both are accurate definitions, however for the purpose of this topic I’m more partial to the later.
We often talk about the importance of maintaining a balanced diet as this is of benefit to our physical and perhaps mental health. Many of us have a general understanding of what a balanced meal looks like, i.e., incorporating a combination of carbohydrates, fibers, proteins, water, iron and so on into our meals every day. However, on a more granular level, the definition of a balanced diet might differ from person to person. Some people may need to incorporate more foods with iron, while others may need to incorporate more carbohydrates to achieve balance in their diet.
Similarly, in the world of fitness, the proportion of exercise versus rest required for good physique and consistent results differs from person to person. Not everyone acquires the ability nor requires the need to exercise 6 out of 7 days in a week. There are several external factor such as age, health condition, lifestyle, and personal responsibilities that define what ‘balance’ is for every individual.
So let’s briefly talk about balance as it relates to juggling work and our personal lives. We need to maintain work life balance the same way we do for food and fitness. Similarly, measuring what constitutes as balance is certainly not a ‘one size fits all’ formula.
Work life balance is the ability for employees to successfully split time between work and their personal lives. Because our lives are not identical, the meaning of balance cannot be the same for us all. To achieve balance at work and in our personal lives, there needs to be an acknowledgement of the importance of both spaces and what is needed to be effective in both instances. Just as it is our responsibility to understand what keeps us balanced in food and exercise, it is also our responsibility to know what keeps us balanced at work and at home. These two spaces play a big part in our mental and emotional stability.
For many, the journey of professional development teaches us to become aware of the unwritten workplace etiquette that our personal lives must be “checked at the door” once we cross the threshold of our office doors. This is important for workplace decorum and there are many benefits to any business or organization, such as focus and productivity. Employees that are focused and uninterrupted by the goings-on outside the walls of their workplace are likely more productive, and the atmosphere created with such a standard is suitable to both the organization and its employees. This same etiquette should extend to our personal lives.
Our home and family are also organizations that are vital to our well-being. These personal organizations benefit from members that are fully engaged and focused. Understanding what balance is for you is important, and getting your employer to also understand and be supportive of those needs, is vital not only for happiness in your personal life but also for your effectiveness as an employee.
My opinion of work life balance is that, both spaces are more interconnected than we think. In order to thrive in either instance, there is a dependency of time allocation that must be respected. We need to work in order to feel fulfilled in our careers and to sustain our livelihoods. Alternatively, we must also maintain a healthy personal life in order to recharge and continue being effective in other areas of our lives (work included).
Understanding the relationship between work and personal time is needed in order to effectively optimize the time allocated for both. The goal is to arrive fully present and fully engaged in the moments of work as well as your personal life.
Thus, my definition of work life balance is the proper observation of time portioned towards work and our personal lives as rituals in order to “remain upright and steady” in both spaces.