Work & life balance is a phrase I have heard many times and a concept that I truly do not believe in.
Stephen Covey, a guru in personal productivity, has an interesting interview on this topic on his blog here. This is a topic where I find myself often disagreeing with people, but I think Covey writes in a very balanced (excuse the pun) way about this.
Basically, in my view, work/life balance as a term is a bit meaningless. It assumes a rift between what you must (work) and what you love (life). It splits up all your activities in two in a way that I think doesn’t make sense.
First of all, I think you should love what you do. If your job doesn’t develop you at all, I would suggest find another occupation. This doesn’t mean that all things you love is something you can do for a living (lets face it – most of us will not be soccer players, artists), but you should be able to find something that is developing you and that you love doing while still earning enough pesetas (you don’t need to get rich!) to allow you to eat, sleep and have fun.
Secondly, splitting them up is a cop out, it doesn’t make you really think about what you are spending your time on and weighing it against it. Take an objective view on what you prioritize, rank your activities, track your time and make sure you spend your time on what is really prioritized, not just activities you do out of a sense of must or urgency. This goes for club nights with friends (life) as well as answering your work email (work). The key is that it’s all the same – Life is a choice you make just as Work, so make that choice a conscious one.
Summing up: stop worrying about your work & life balance. Instead, work on the list of what is important to you in your life – all your life – ordered by importance, and then align your energy (and time) to this.