Work/Life Balance is More of a Blend
Jan 24, 2019 Beth Monaghan
When I was navigating the fog of InkHouse’s early days, which coincided with being a new mom, multitasking was my definition of work/life balance. I felt like a superhero writing strategic plans while feeding my daughter a bottle, and doing conference calls while she played at the park. I figured I’d just do everything all of the time. That’s a pretty good way to do everything poorly, and well, lose your mind.
Work/life balance is making space to be your whole self. A fulfilling personal life leads to a fulfilling work life, and vice versa. They each require intentional presence, which stops the chaos and allows perspective to ease in as you take a step back (or even just take a break).
Now, don’t get me wrong, we’re running a PR firm here, not a retreat center, and our days can be downright frenetic. But balance is possible if we think about it in the right ways. Balance is not coming in at 9, leaving at 5, and never checking messages in between. That’s not the reality we live in. Balance is more like giving yourself permission and having the kind of workplace culture that allows you to do the things that make you whole, so you can find space between the chaos.
So in this, my second “Connected Culture” post, I asked our employees how they define work/life balance. I was struck by a common thread throughout the answers: not only an understanding of the importance of having balance, but an understanding of the nature of “balance.” As my colleague and friend Ed beautifully put it, “It’s more of a "blend" than a balance -- and as much as I want to set concrete boundaries, I accept that there are occasions when work seeps into life, and life seeps into work. It's not absolute, and that's fine.”
Below, I share a few of the responses.
Question: What does work/life balance look like to you?
“Work/life balance has become more of a blend in today’s always connected world, so it’s getting harder to describe what it means. For me, it’s measured by keeping stress levels relatively low and carving out time away from work each day to do things that make me a happier, healthier and more productive person overall. This can include a day trip away with family, a fitness class or just taking a few minutes to walk my dog outdoors -- if it’s making me happy and calm, it’ll translate to better results in the workplace, as well." - Jess, Account Manager, Waltham
“For me, work-life balance is the freedom to unshackle the iPhone from my hand and to really be present, doing something I enjoy (listening to records or shooting hoops with my kids), something I don't enjoy (doing dishes or laundry) or something about which I am largely ambivalent (going to the recycling center -- I'm glad I do it but it's still kind of a drag). The point is it's great to be present for life's pleasurable or mundane activities -- without constantly hitting the "refresh" button, afraid that I might miss something, while ultimately missing everything. It's also more of a "blend" than a balance -- and as much as I want to set concrete boundaries, I accept that there are occasions when work seeps into life, and life seeps into work. It's not absolute, and that's fine.” - Ed, Senior Vice President, Waltham
"Work-life balance is just that - a balance. It's so easy to place a greater emphasis on work, because for most of us, we spend more time in the office than anywhere else. But that doesn't mean it's more important. Family, friends, hobbies, "me time," are all equally, if not more, important. If you can make time in your day for non-work related activities, and work in an environment that encourages that, you'll be happier and more engaged when you're at your desk." - Bristol, Account Manager, Waltham
“I recently did a small meditation workshop with my team and it really highlighted the need for balance at work. Being able to take a 10 minute break, sit in a room and find balance through a meditation practice is a great way to encourage self-care within the workplace. Also, running workshops or having programs that encourage self-care practices in the workplace sends such a strong message to employees that a healthy lifestyle is encouraged during your workday, not just before or after.” - Lauren, Senior Graphic Designer, Waltham
“Work-life balance means having the liberty to engage in personal commitments without feeling guilty. It's the ability to be present in work and ‘life’ without compromising the quality of the activities in both of these spheres. Flexibility helps you achieve this 'balance,' but flexibility cannot happen without first trusting that you are accountable and your team is accountable.” - Kara, Vice President, New York City
“A work/life balance is something that is very important to me. Right out of college it was a difficult concept to grasp because I wanted to prove myself and be successful in my career. That being said, I have learned that being successful in my career also means taking time for myself when needed and having a great group of co-workers you can lean on and work with as a unit. There are of course days where you are going to have to work long hours, but a work/life balance to me is being able to shut your brain off from work when away from the office because you know you can count on your peers to help keep the ship afloat.” - Madison, Account Executive, Waltham
“Being judged on my performance and not my presence. Having multiple times per year when I can shut off my brain about work and focus on my family, personal interests and mental well being. Working for a company that cares as much about our personal well being as our professional well being. Feeling no fear or judgement when asking to take time off for anything that will result in better peace of mind for me and less personal stress.” - Jason, President & San Francisco General Manager
I will leave you with some workplace blessings.
- May you be judged by your ideas and results, not your presence (thank you, Jason!).
- May you find the right blend of work and life (thank you, Ed!).
- May you find your center amid the chaos.