You know what’s been a popular buzz phrase, especially over the past couple of years? Work-life balance. Sure, we all need the reminder that work shouldn’t be our entire lives. But what sticks out to me about the phrase is the word balance. I don’t want to balance my work time and ‘life’ time; that implies that they’re both equally important, when the truth is, they’re not.
Don’t get me wrong— I love my work, I love my clients, and I value what I do. But more than that, I value myself. That means that I want to give priority to my mental health and relationships, so that my work time feels more enjoyable and less like an obligation. Even as a freelancer, not a 9-5 salaried employee, I struggle with this. It’s like I owe it to myself and my family to devote the appropriate time to work.
The question that helped me reevaluate how I prioritize my time is pretty short and sweet… Why?
Why do I feel obligated to put in 40 hours of work a week? Why does it feel wrong to meet a friend for brunch and start work later in the day? Why do I feel guilty for putting in a few hours of work during a vacation that we booked last minute?
I think there are a few answers that factor in. We were all taught that ‘good’ workers follow a schedule and a routine- they put in their expected hours with as much efficiency as possible. But now, we’re all trying to relearn what work looks like and desperately trying to enforce boundaries. It’s a mental tug-of-war with no end in sight.
So, I’ve started asking ‘why not’ in my quest to integrate work and life so they complement- not battle- each other.
Why not attend a yoga class this Tuesday morning? Is there a deadline I need to meet or can I allow myself this time?
Why not work for a few hours tonight? I’ve had a lot of quality time with my family lately, so do I feel good about getting away to work for a little bit, or do I feel like I should stay with them?
We’ve got to remove the stigma that comes from working when it makes sense. Remote, asynchronous work is a gift that should allow us to schedule work around our personal lives, rather than our personal lives around our work.