It might seem as if I am going to write a blog based around a hot topic or a buzzword just for the sake of SEO, but I promise you, that is not my intention. My intention with this space, my website, has always been to speak to my truth and highlight the successes and the struggles I have in my life. While being a buzzword and a forever viral internet topic for millennials, work life balance for me has been a struggle.
Having worked in some capacity of corporate digital marketing for the past 6 years, I feel as if I have come to know my universal truth as it relates to work life balance. Work life balance is a mental way of living, not a physical set of boundaries. 🙌
In my earlier years of working, a lot of the articles I read lead me to believe that if I just “unplugged” or “disconnected” then I would truly be able to experience work life balance. Hi 👋, millennial here. Nice to meet you! I’ve grown up with the internet and access to everything. The idea of disconnecting really only means I’m in a remote location void of wi-fi or the ability to connect. (And let’s be real, we’ve all been there and it’s right next to emotional vulnerability on the list of things we want to spend our time doing.) Oh, you’re not an 8 on the enneagram? You enjoy emotional vulnerability. Gulp. The “x” is in the top right (or left) hand corner. Don’t let it hit you on the way out!
Just KIDDING!! 😂 All types are welcome here! You know that! Is it really my blog if I don’t poke fun at myself?
Back to the point, I stay connected because that’s all I know. The majority of the time I’m connected to the internet or my phone it’s not even for work purposes. Once I came to this conclusion, those previous articles I was reading didn’t work anymore. They didn’t allow me the space to experience connection and relaxation in tandem with one another.
WLB–Can we start the acronym? Or do I remind you of someone else…
WLB, for me, is a lifestyle that requires constant effort and energy to be poured into it in order to make it real. I mean ‘balance’ in any facet of life will require focus, attention, energy and effort. A lot of people are striving to find balance between their role as a mother and as an individual. You might be trying to balance the demands of building a savings account while trying to upgrade or maintain your home. And the best of us might just be trying to balance in the simplest of ways:
The second you don’t exchange focus, attention, energy and effort for balance… you loose. You become unbalanced and one of the sides of the teeter totter drops quickly to the hard ground.
I’m not really good at any of this. (Cue vulnerability). But, I try! I swear, even when I utterly fail, I am seeking balance every single day. I guess all of this daily balance practice has helped me be able to better recognize the signs of work life balance in my own life. When I am being my best self and in my greatest stride of work life balance, I know I am living out these 3 concepts.
I am Practicing Mindfulness
To me, this looks like not emotionally reacting to every little thing at work or at home. I’m not nagging, or nit picky, or discontent or chasing the next thing. I am calm. I am grounded. I am mindful. What does mindfulness look like for you?
I am mindful that not every action in my life deserves a reaction. And as someone perpetually wired ready to react, being mindful takes a ton of work! (One of the not so admirable qualities of an enneagram 8.) This practice helps me reserve some of my emotional energy and focus so I can spend that energy and focus on practicing balance.
I am Leaving Work in my Car
But Robyn, you just said work life balance is a mental way of living, not a physical set of boundaries. Right! Let me explain. Leaving work in the car isn’t about physically leaving my laptop in the back seat. (Though I do highly recommend not bringing your laptop home at all.) What I really mean by this concept is that I check my mental attitude every day when I pull in the garage.
Before I exit my car to go inside and greet my husband, I take a note of any anxiety or frustration I might be feeling. I assess the tension in my little world and remind myself that I am now home. I have arrived to my oasis and I need to turn off the other noise.
This is all to say that obviously my husband and I at times discuss our days and talk about work. However, we try our best to make those discussions short lived so we can make the evening as enjoyable as possible. Which leads me to my final tip to work life balance living…
I am Engaging in Weekday Living
How easy is it to be a complete vegetable when you get home from work because the day just wiped you of all of your energy? I can be queen of walking through the door, instantly putting on my jammies and curling up in front of the TV to zone out.
I have the luxury of being able to flush most responsibilities down the toilet in the evening if I want to. The dishes, laundry and cleaning can always wait until tomorrow or the weekend. As long as I manage to find something to eat for dinner, I can consider the evening a success. (Aside: This is all because I have no other mouths to feed or little humans relying on me for their existence. Or maybe this is WHY I don’t have little humans….Shout out to all of the stronger than me mommies and daddies out there!)
However, the above mentioned vegetable life can lead to living for the weekends and a sense of unfulfillment. Within the past few months, I observed that my weekends were feeling so full of responsibilities that I neglected throughout the week, I was barely able to find time to enjoy myself. Once I saw this pattern forming, I wanted to change my habits so I could live a more fulfilling and balanced life.
Now, my weekday evenings look more like a date night out with my husband or a wine and yoga workshop with a friend. I try to wash dishes as I go so they don’t pile up and I try to sweep a room per night to keep the house tidy. I have even started grocery shopping on Friday nights (not as willingly as some of the other chores) so that I can have more time to meal prep on the weekends and less time out in the hustle and bustle of mid-day Saturday traffic. (And I report that the grocery store is basically a ghost town on Friday nights, so if you can find some extra energy at the end of your week it really is worth it!)
Weekday living, having something to look forward to on a random Tuesday night, has helped me establish balance from work. It gets me out of the office on time and reminds me of the “life” part of work life balance. I mentally encourage myself to believe that I can do anything on a Wednesday that I can do on a Saturday.
I am never in perfect balance, but I am striving for it every day. I want work to be life giving and I want part of my life to feel like work. Nothing worth having in life will ever come easily. My hope is that continuing to practice these concepts keeps my focus, attention, energy and effort in the right place!