Have you noticed when people talk about life balance they mention the two words work and life? I know when I hear the term work-life balance, I picture work (running my business) and then kind of a blur of family and personal care. According to author, James Patterson in his novel “Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas,” there are five components to life balance. I find this very interesting and I find it makes it clear about where to focus my energy to strike a balance in life.
First, work-life balance doesn’t necessarily mean 50 percent of your time is spent at work and 50 percent of your time is spent at home. That’s probably not very likely or practical. For many people, the majority of their day is spent at work and driving to and from work to make a living. It really boils down to having a balance that is comfortable for you and comfortable for your family as well. If you’re working 12 hour days because you love what you do, you’re on the road commuting and it’s causing you to miss out on family dinners and kids’ events, that’s probably not a comfortable balance for your whole family. A better solution may be to work eight hours, commute, spend time with your family and then work from home in the evening for a couple of hours. A work-life balance may require some compromise.
Let’s take a look at the five components to life balance:
I just love this list!
Work: As important as work is for our livelihoods and professional satisfaction if we’re doing what we love, it may actually be the one component that can bounce back and recover from setbacks the easiest. Of course there are exceptions when someone’s job may really be on the line, but most of the time, we can recover from mistakes or errors.
Family: If there’s not a good balance of time with your family and family members feel neglected, there can be serious consequences here. You may grow apart, argue, build up resentments and relationships can part ways.
Health: In my opinion, this can easily be the most important component of life balance and the easiest one to not attend to. If you don’t have your health, then it affects everything else in your life. Ironically, eating healthy, exercising, stretching, deep breathing and proper sleep is commonly what people put off so they can get more stuff done each day. The list is long when it comes to possible health ailments, but the worst case scenario is an unexpected, early death.
Friends: I hadn’t really thought about friendships as part of a work-life balance, but it makes sense. If you’re so focused on work that you don’t send out birthday cards on time, you don’t make a point to get together with people or you miss friends’ special occasions and milestones, one day you may look around and find you’re standing alone. Friendships worth having are worth nurturing. And, the good news is, it’s usually pretty easy and doesn’t take too much time and effort to stay in touch and stay connected to friends.
Integrity: Honestly, I had never thought about integrity as a component of life balance. I’ve always strived to live my life and run my business with integrity. I think I took it for granted and really didn’t think of this as a pillar for balance. But this one also makes sense. If you’re so busy that you take shortcuts, cut corners, lie or act in a dishonest manner, you can quickly lose people’s faith and trust in you, whether that’s from family, friends, co-workers or clients. You may find the number of people in your corner starts to dwindle. If your clients or customers lose faith in you, your bank account may also start to dwindle.
I know it can be a struggle to keep all of the balls up in the air to achieve life balance. If the balls are dropping, I think that’s when we need to look at what we have on our calendars that we can remove and areas where we may be wasting time each day. We may have to make adjustment to give ourselves back some time in the day to devote to the five components of life balance. I believe life balance is a like a living document, we’re always adjusting and making tweaks, but it’s worth it to live a life that is healthy, wealthy and wise.
Monika Kristofferson is a professional organizer, productivity consultant, author and founder of Efficient Organization in Lake Stevens. Reach her at 425-220-8905. (Courtesy of my efficiency column in the Everett Herald Business Journal).