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The Pursuit of Work Life Balance

By: George Waggott, founder, and Roberto Fonseca-Velazquez, summer law student,

George Waggott Law

A few years ago, the BBC published an article offering some insightful commentary about work life balance has been gaining popularity on LinkedIn. The gist of the article was that attaining work life balance is a cycle and not an achievement. It is not a one-time goal that can be reached, but rather a moving target that cannot be met by simply divvying time up evenly between work and personal time. This is because if you do not identify the underlying emotional stress that can arise from work, then time spent at home may not actually be enjoyable. To achieve work life balance, you must be mentally present in both realms. As many individuals find themselves now working from home for some or all of their working time, the boundary between these two realms can become blurred as the office is at home and home is at the office. Below we have compiled some steps that can contribute to achieving a sense of work-life balance in a fluid way.

Set a Schedule

Although the BBC article made it clear that work life balance is not about setting even hours for work and home time, setting clear working hours can help people feel balanced and “on track”. This may be easier to do if you are still going into the office every day, but it is just as important if you are working from home. Organizing your day and setting out what needs to be accomplished will help alleviate some stress. In turn, alleviating this stress can help individuals to be more present in the “life” portion of the balance.

Ask Your Organization for Flexibility

More and more organizations are recognizing the need for flexible working arrangements. Professor Erin Kelly from MIT says that work life balance is understood to be an individual’s response to their circumstances, meaning they often say that “it’s up to me to manage the craziness of my work life’. But organizations need to also examine the demands that they are placing on employees. As a worker you can initiate this conversation with your employer by determining if a flexible working arrangement could be an option for you or your team. This can often ease the stress of trying to make a standard 9 to 5 workday fit into your lifestyle. Perhaps you have kids that need to be picked up from school or you would prefer to start your day early so you can extend the time you have to do other things in the evening. Prof. Kelly identifies the “work” side of the equation as typically being the problem, saying that “the root problem is not how the two pieces of work and life come together. It’s that we have unrealistic expectations of what we’re asked to do on the work side.” Therefore, if your workplace or organization is not an environment where work-life balance is possible in the first place, any strides you attempt to make toward it on a personal level may well be in vain.

Care For Yourself

Attaining work life balance is ultimately about working towards a healthy lifestyle and having sustainable work habits. This will help everyone cope more effectively with stress caused either by work or life. Eating well, adding physical activity to your daily routine, and relaxing

are all essential characteristics of a healthy life. Ensuring you have some time for your personal hobbies or interests will help you relax and feel as though you are making the most of your time away from work. While at work, find co-workers who you can rely on when you are having a hard time. Open lines of communication to ensure that when a conflict between your work and your personal life arises, you can depend on others to assist you through the stress or cover some of your responsibilities.

Work life balance is a moving target. There is no simple formula or recipe that once completed will make everyone feel as though they have achieved the balance. Workers and organizations must consider work responsibilities and responsibilities in home life, and consider how they might create a balance that works. It will look different for everyone, but is nevertheless an important aspect of both feeling less stress, and being more effective in your work.

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