I find the word Balance to be icky when deposited in the phrase Work Life Balance. Balance is pressure to not fall (or fail) and a constant, exhausting vigilance. There’s nothing fun about it. In this phrase it implies bringing two completely unrelated elements together and forcing a symmetry that’s not natural.
Harmony is an onomatopoeic word. It makes me want to sigh with joy and dance around gently in the soft breeze. Harmony is many voices coming together to make one magnificent union of different chords. It’s also a life choice.
Attitude and actions pave the way to the Work Life Harmonic Convergence I preach today. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Set boundaries respectfully, diplomatically and firmly. No answering emails after 5pm. Ok, 6pm.
- Take breaks every 90-minutes. Walk around the block, watch a ted talk, or meditate in a bathroom stall. 90-minute intervals with true breaks are scientifically proven to result in greater quality and higher productivity.*
- Have a real lunch. No processed crap, no shoving in fast food as you race down the hall to the next meeting. Sit down for 20 minutes (40? You rebel!), read the paper or chat with a colleague about a non-work topic. Ingest and digest the 4 food groups and a tall glass of water.
- Sing on the way to work and home. Make up your own words to songs or just mumble along. Singing does wonders for the nervous system and gets the oxygen flowing.
- Start a ritual with your family or friends – each night state 3 good things that happened today. Then pay attention during the day to collect your 3 good things. It shifts your attitude during the day towards looking for half-full glasses all over the office. It’s safe to bring work home when it’s the good stuff.
- Tell stories about your dog, kids, or grandmother and share pictures with colleagues on a regular basis. Build this into your workday. It’s healthy to let people know you’re a human with a life outside of those cubicles.
The idea here isn’t rocket science. It’s a shift in attitude about how our work and personal lives interweave. It’s ok for them to dance around and with each other. We can set boundaries that are healthy, but not ones that block out one part of our lives. That’s not natural or real. We’re humans who show up in both spaces, so how can we stop one when we’re in another?
To be fully present in both our work and personal spaces requires that we bring our whole selves wherever we are.
Harmony. I may just have to go dance and sing right now.
* “Relax! You’ll be More Productive,” by Tony Schwartz