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Tips for Reframing the Problem of Work-Life Balance

Are you striving to create a better work-life balance right now?  Has this been an ongoing struggle?  Feeling like you’re never doing good enough?

Work-life balance is a challenge that often comes up for professionals. In fact, it is pretty cliche how much we talk about work-life balance.  And while I often role my eyes when someone utters the phrase, it does so succinctly encapsulate a pandemic of this time we live in.

So rather than resist it, I say lean in.  Lets lean in so much we reframe the problem entirely.  We can do that by changing the predominant image we have of work life balance; the scales of justice.  This image does not empower us to effectively handle this delicate balance.

Work Life Balance Does Not Resemble the Scales of Justice

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I have long disliked the notion of work-life balance. That’s because, in my mind, the visual was like the scales of justice – easily and obviously being tipped in one of two directions.  Over the last few weeks I have casually been asking other professionals what predominant image they have of work life balance and they concur of this type of black and white portrayal.

With the image of the scales of justice in mind, you’re either focussing too much on work and your personal life suffers or vice versa.  This image is disempowering because it forces us to make either or choices and ignores how work and life are integrated.  In this way, getting the scales to be perfectly in balance feels near impossible.

Reframing the Problem of Work Life Balance

My experience of work-life balance is less black and white. The two often intersect. This is important because it’s that intersection that makes me feel fulfilled.  I like my work.  My work often informs my personal interests and my personal interests help me succeed at work.

So, what visual can empower you to better manage work life balance?

Photo by Ed Garcia


Have you ever played jenga?  It’s a balancing game that involves constant motion yet requires stability. Players build a tower with rectangular blocks and one by one.  Then they take pieces out of the middle and move them to the top. This continues until the tower of blocks topples over.

The thing about Jenga is that playing it well requires presence of mind.  If you’re distracted you’re likely to cause the whole thing to collapse.  Work life balance is the same way.  The trick is to be present, in the moment.  If you are working, be present with your work.  If you are at home, be present at home.  If the two are dancing together at once, be present in that moment.  Simple, right!

Tips for Being Present

Here are four tips to help you be more present and as a result better manage your work-life balance.

  1. Focus on your breath – Breathing is a powerful way to center oneself into the present moment.  To start, try taking 3-4 deep breaths at a time.

  2. Acknowledge your surroundings – Next take a moment to notice what’s around you. What do you see, hear, smell, etc?  What’s going one?

  3. Observe your own thoughts – Imagine you’re floating above yourself and observing your own thoughts.

  4. Give yourself screen free time – Nothing distracts like being constantly glued to your technology.  Draw boundaries with your use of computers, phones, tablets, etc.

Reframing our perceptions, whether it be of work-life balance or some other predominant, problematic paradigm, is a powerful practice for empowering change and getting past stuck.  How have you grappled with such challenges?

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