I used to think I had to have a perfect balance between work and life in order to be successful. Since the first day of my work-from-home lifestyle, I made it my goal to incorporate some sort of balance between my working hours and my busy life.
At least that’s what I tried.
But over the last few years, I’ve come to realize that I have no idea what the perfect work/life balance is. Or if there even is such a thing. There are times when work and life flow beautifully together, and then there are times when nothing falls into place.
So this post is all about what I discovered when I sought the work/life balance.
The Problem With Having Too Much Of Either
Back before I got really serious about my blogging business, I worked whenever the mood struck me. The rest of the time was all about ramming around the house taking care of chores and just “hanging out”. I was lazy. I figured as long as I made a little bit of money, I’d be OK with that.
For a while, it was pretty cool being able to go out and do stuff whenever I wanted to. And honestly, I love not having to answer to anyone. But it’s kind of weird being the only one under 50 at The Home Depot in the middle of the day. And let’s not forget the fact that I wasn’t making much money. I wanted more.
My work/life balance leaned more on the LIFE side of things.
As awesome as I thought it was to have such a lax schedule, I knew money wasn’t going to find me. I had to buckle down and get to work or I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills. So that’s what I did but there were times when I spent up to 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, on my work. I’d open up my laptop before 6:00 a.m., pause for a quick breakfast, work until dinnertime, then get back on it for another few hours. I was all about working.
It got to the point where I hardly saw anyone – no friends, no family. It was a lonely time.
My work/life balance was listing heavily on the WORK side.
No matter what I did, I just couldn’t win. The fewer hours I worked, the less money I had to play with. The more I worked, the less time I had to enjoy life.
In reality, there was no balance.
This Is What I Learned When I Tried To Find Work/Life Balance
I eventually grew tiered of the way things were. I knew I had to keep working but I also wanted to enjoy life.
So I sought out my balance.
Only, I came to realize that finding a work/life balance is really hard to do. There is no absolute in this game, at least not for me. And you may have a hard time finding a consistent balance too, depending on your line of work and life demands.
That’s just the way it is.
I can prioritize what work needs to be done but the reality is, some important things get pushed to the bottom of the list. Waiting for a reply, permission, or even a simple acknowledgment all affect the order of my work.
I know what times of the day I can get more work done, and I try really hard to stick to this schedule, but sometimes life creeps in. It just does. Appointments, emergencies, and just the stray necessity always seem to pop up.
Separating blocks of hours for work and life is a great idea…when I stick to it. I can be in the middle of a project and the thought of shoveling the snow off the driveway is a constant nag. Or I can be preparing dinner when I have a new idea for a blog post and want to start writing it.
And when it comes to setting boundaries, HA ! As someone who works from home, can you count on one hand how many times you hear your name being called from other parts of the house ? That’s right, you need two hands.
As far as “me time” is concerned, well, I’m convinced that a healthy ME means a better life for all my loved ones. Planning ahead to have the coveted selfish time works. I tell myself “Wednesday, I’m going to Kohl’s to buy new underwear”. Or “Treadmill after breakfast – just 20 minutes on the treadmill and I’m good to go”. Sometimes, I don’t make it to Kohl’s until Thursday, but I’m pretty consistent with the treadmill 🙂 .
One of the best pieces of work/life balance advice I have read is this: letting go of the fear of failure if I’m not working. It’s true, if I set my work aside for a while to take part in life, I am not a failure. Sure, I would have to make up for the loss of work later but at least I got to step away for a while.
The Take-Away Is This:
There will be times when you will have to put in a lot of hours to get the work done; to get the paycheck you need. And that’s OK because there’s nothing wrong with working hard.
There will be times when things come up in life and your work is pushed off to the side. Whether it’s taking care of a sick loved one, or just being lazy, sometimes you just need to take a step back.
That is YOUR work/life balance. You don’t have to chase it, you don’t have to create it. It will come to you naturally as you realize how much you need financially and how much you need personally.
How do you spend your days? do you tend to lean more on the work or life side of things? Let me know in the comments.