For many people maintaining a healthy work-life balance is a major challenge. One of the primary difficulties in this regard seems to be establishing sensible boundaries, which preserve and protect the various, essential parts of our lives.
In a quest to better understand how people address this challenge, I asked some friends for their input. I asked these questions:
- Do you find it challenging to maintain healthy work-life balance?
- What do you do to maintain healthy work-life balance in your life?
- How do you establish sensible boundaries, which preserve and protect the various, essential parts of your life?
I appreciate each one who took the time to respond. These were both interesting and varied. However, there were several common threads, which I will summarize in the “take aways” below.
Chrisanne Mortensen replied as follows:
2) Pray for God to give me enough time in the day. I was once told by a CEO of a Fortune 50 company that in order to maintain a work-life balance he brings them together, his friends are his work colleagues, they run together, talk business, etc. They basically blur the lines. He is an extrovert though. Me, being an introvert, that plan is difficult. For me, I try to keep in mind that it’s not a daily balance, some days, weeks, months, years it’s skewed toward work, other times it’s skewed toward life.
3) I haven’t quite figured this out fully. I don’t talked a lot of personal stuff at work except to throw some info out to keep people out of my deeply personal life.
Barb Wangerin gave the following responses:
I refuse to juggle. I get my monthly calendar out and start filling in all these “have to’s,” the “probables,” and then the “possibles.” Depending on the amount of time each one needs, I either break it up into sections of time per day or if I can knock it out in an evening or morning, I will get it done first.
I am learning the hard way to manage my time between my college courses, job, home, and ministry.
During the week, I have a cut off time for working on homework in the evening. I try to complete all of my homework during the week, so I have quality time with my family. Sunday, of course, belongs to the Lord and I don’t budge on that.
The only missing time allotment is time for me. I am working on that this semester.
Hope this helps. Of course, all of this is interlaced with Jesus. I try to find Him in everything I do. It is a huge surge of Yeeessssss when I get the opportunity to [include] God’s Word in my college work.
Lori Lee Hunt-Robertson contributed this:
With two business that operate 7 days a week…. And one of those operating 12 hours per day, sometimes it is just impossible to balance, and I accept that it is a temporary situation to a long term goal. But when things get too much, I make sure employees handle it for a day, and I scoop up the family and get out of town where there are no distractions. Cell phone off, dinner and some quality time.
Heather Jernegan wrote:
2) As a teacher I bring a lot of work home with me. Papers to grade, lesson plans to create, parents to contact, emails to send and respond to, etc. I also have after hours meetings to attend and committee work to complete. I don’t do a good job balancing but am happy that I can do some of the work from home so I am at least physically present.
3) I am still working on this. I make sure to “unplug” and eat dinner together with my family.
Amber Conley Cura added to the conversation with the following:
This is one of my favorite conversations. I don’t have it nailed down just yet but I have learned over the years how to say now to many things. For me, it boils down to why am I working? And when is my work ever more important than my family? Sometimes, I have to say no to work, which may mean not to advancement because my family needs me. Sometimes, I have to say no to my family because I have to work to help support them. The key for me, is I always try to thing long-term. How will this affect my family in the long run? For me, my family always comes first. There’s so much more I could say, but that’s the short and sweet version.
So, there you have it. Five strong, clear voices speaking into this topic. Each person has a different career path. Each has wrestled with and continues to wrestle with the challenge of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Each has provided us with helpful insights, as we seek personal growth in this area of life.
My take-aways from their input are:
1) We need to be intentional. There doesn’t seem to be a one-size-fits-all solution to this challenge. Each contributor is doing something, though. When it comes to achieving a healthy work life balance, perhaps the best advice is:
2) We may need to retreat in order to advance. This seems evident on the basis of several suggestions:
- Remember: You can say no to some requests
- Turn your cell phone off
- Get away from all of the distractions
These suggestions cause me to think of something I heard a long time ago: Distance brings clarity. It is amazing how much perspective we gain on problems, pressures, demands, and decisions when we simply step back from them a small distance. The crush of the moment can confuse us; but, distance brings clarity. My suspicion is that we all need to do a better job of putting this into practice.
3) We need to know our “WHY!” Actually, what we really need to do is “START WITH WHY!” If we are sorting through the things we have to do, the things we will probably do, or the things we might do, or simply deciding what we will do with the time we have available today, starting with “our why” makes the process so much easier. More importantly, it turns the process of organizing into both a discovery and declaration of what truly controls our life.
For me, this final point is the key to the whole matter. A few years ago, my oldest son told me about a video I just had to watch. The Ted Talk presenter is Simon Sinek. At the time of this writing, his presentation has been viewed 40,070,333 times. If you are not one of these, I encourage you to click on this link and listen to his “Start With Why” Ted Talk entitled: How great leaders inspire action.
Again, a special thank you goes out to those who contributed their thoughts to this piece. Hopefully, we will all realize a healthier work-life balance as we:
- Become more intentional in our daily decisions and time management.
- Make time to experience seasons of “retreat,” so that we can realize advancement in this important life-challenge.
- Take time to discover our Why, so that we can always “Start With Why.”
© Bill Williams, a fellow sojourner
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