Achieving the elusive work-life balance is difficult for many professionals who must weigh the demands of a 24/7 workplace against family needs and personal interests. But what if there’s simply no truth to the idea that work-life balance can even be achieved? It’s a topic several LinkedIn Influencers weighed in on this week.
Holly Hamann, co-founder and chief marketing officer at TapInfluencer
“The idea of achieving work-life balance is… rooted in the minds of ambitious yet overworked professionals who want to ‘have it all’ — work and play, career and family,” wrote Hamann in her post Don’t Fool Yourself—There is No Work-Life Balance. “I don’t believe there is such a thing as work-life balance. It’s all life.”
“Work usually takes priority over the rest, however, because work is what we spend the majority of our day doing, it financially supports our dreams and it’s a core part of our identities,” she wrote. “Add mobile technology to our career-driven lives, and work priorities now have the potential to take over our personal lives.”
That threatens our relationships, health and overall happiness, Hamann wrote. “Every day, we unknowingly hand over precious power to alerts and notifications — distractions ironically set up to ensure we don’t miss a thing,” Hamann wrote. “When we’re constantly bombarded with these bits of information, priorities and distractions start to run together, and we have a hard time knowing what to focus on.”
How do you know when your priorities have gone awry?
“I believe it’s when you’ve reached a point where the urgency to react to something is disproportionate to its priority,” she wrote. “Do you delay a scheduled workout because you feel compelled to reply to an email first? Do unread emails cause you stress even after a 12-hour workday? Do you check your phone at dinner? These are all signs that you have an imbalanced relationship with technology.”
There are some ways to put your life in better balance — at least with technology, Hamann suggested. Among them: find a non-work related passion and wait 30 minutes each morning before checking your email or phone.
“The most defining moment of your day is when you first wake up. You have a choice about the first information you expose to your brain. By meditating, exercising, journaling, or doing something reflective for those first 30 minutes instead of opening the digital floodgates, you allow yourself to start your day recharged and aware of your priorities,” Hamann wrote.
“Learning to control which information we pay attention to — and when — is crucial to achieving balance.”
Paul Herbert, vice president of Solution Design at Symbolist
“This whole idea of work-life balance is starting to unravel before our very eyes,” wrote Herbert in his post Work-Life Balance is Dead — Now it is Life Exchange Rate.
“Some of us cling to it tightly, hoping we can continue to ignore emails, yammer and text messages between the hours of 6 pm and 8 am. But you know you can’t,” he wrote. “Work and life aren’t apart any more… and the reality is you must face the fact that work and life are intertwined.”
To truly understand the concept, it is important to recognise that the idea of work-life balance is more historical anomaly than anything else, Herbert wrote. Up until about the early 1900s… “factories created the need and the opportunity for work-life balance,” he wrote.
Factory life meant shifts and predictable regularity in schedules. But, wrote Herbert, that approach no longer applies.
“That idea — of the clock as a divider between work-life — is history. The present, and the future, is about the merging of those concepts,” Herbert wrote. “Life is what we do. Life is the sum total of our actions and our efforts. Work-life balance isn’t about separation any more — it is about consolidation.”
The idea of consolidation over separation or balance came to Herbert when he read a quote from Henry David Thoreau: “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
“The price (the salary/benefits/freedom) of the job is directly connected to the amount of stuff you, as an employee, have to give up in order to have that job,” he wrote. “The more of your life you give up — the higher the cost to your life and therefore the higher the price to the employer.”
The lesson for employers, Herbert wrote: “The more you allow your employees to consolidate what you want as an employer into what they want as humans should make it much more affordable — talent wise.”