Work Life Balance – Fact or Fiction?

As I’m writing this, it’s nearly October and many are planning for the holidays if they haven’t already. I’m not talking about planning their holiday time off, at least not in the e-commerce world we work in. I’m talking about planning for the hardest working time of the year. A time when a shop can easily make the bulk of their sales for the whole year…

This has me thinking about Work/Life Balance and whether it’s fact or fiction. I see a lot of articles on the topic. It’s a popular thing to discuss with two very different opinions. There’s the “you must set boundaries” camp and the “my work is my life camp”. I fall in the latter.

One of the arguments for boundaries and mandatory “turn it off” times, is due to stress and health. That’s important and I get it. I wonder myself if I should approach balance differently (read try to balance at all). I don’t balance. My work/life is intertwined like a DNA sketch. Mainly I don’t have a problem with it because I enjoy what I do.

Yes, it’s still stressful and exhausting. So are sports and other hobbies we consider “life”. Work probably stresses me out less than the diehard football fan whose team loses that week. Trying to turn it off causing me more stress though. I like to say you can’t schedule passion.

There are a lot of times where I get all fired up about something, and then put it on a list for later. When I see it a few days later, the moment has past. My passion has left. That saddens me. I’m spontaneous (read I have trouble focusing on things that aren’t exciting).

My goal here isn’t to reiterate the variety of articles you’ve surely seen on the topic. Instead my goal is to share some things that work for me in keeping sanity when stress starts building. So whether or not you’re in the same camp, hopefully these will help you just the same. Disclaimer – I’m not a doctor. You’re responsible for anything you do or don’t do. 

  1. 4-7-8 Breath – For the skimmers and stressed out, I’ll put this first. I came across this exercise from Tony Robbins and then Dr Andrew Weil so it must be good. 4-7-8 are counts. You can read them as seconds, but more importantly it’s their relation to one another.
    1. Inhale through your nose to count of 4. Breathe from the stomach, not the chest.
    2. Hold for count of 7.
    3. Exhale for count of 8. Empty your lungs. Suck in your stomach and squeeze all the air you can out of your lungs.
    4. Repeat the sequence 3 times.
  2. Meditation – I was hesitant to believe I’d enjoy meditation until I reached a tipping point with others I follow who swear by it. Strangely it’s widely accepted that keeping your body healthy is important yet the mind gets ignored. 10 minutes goes a long way. Unfortunately, the more I need it, the more likely I am to avoid it 🙁
  3. Exercise – If I can regularly get to the gym, it’s amazing how much more clarity I get.
  4. Get outside – “But in every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir. I very much enjoy being outside. It’s easy to get cooped up in the office and forget how important it is to get outside. I always feel better after some time outdoors.
  5. Do things for you. Like this post. I wrote this because I wanted to. I know it will help someone and if it helps just one person I’ll be happy. Read that again, “I’ll be happy”. It’s nice when you can do something for yourself and others at the same time.

I hope you enjoyed my tips. In the comments below share any tips you have and/or what camp you’re in!

One thought on “Work Life Balance – Fact or Fiction?”

  1. I think most creative people are “my work is my life” types. We are because we know there is a shelf life to inspiration, and because we also know that opportunities are fleeting. We are in a business where our work opportunities don’t usually fit into the usual 9 to 5. Creative people have to “strike while the iron is hot” (as my mother used to say.) We do shows and festivals that fall on weekends, holidays, and times when hard things happen. (This summer my dad passed away, and I had to set up for a three day art show the day after his funeral.) But we also know a kind of control over our own destiny that most 9 to 5-ers don’t. There is freedom and joy that comes from being there to take our kids to school, being able to run to the bedside of a parent when they are ill, and cuddling with our canine companions as we look out at the rain.

    My go-to rejuvenater: Mandatory nap time.

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