work-life balance work-life blendStriving for the traditional concept of work-life balance – that work is completely outside and separate from the rest of your life – is a losing proposition these days. Strive instead, for a work-life blend. Accepting that we’re always connected and the way we work has changed will go a long way in reducing stress and navigating a healthy balance blend of work and personal lives.

I’ve sheepishly replied to an email at 1am, only to receive a non-sheepish answer minutes later. Will this become a regular practice? Probably not, but acknowledging that not replying to the email would result in more time worrying about it allows me to quickly deal with it with little effort and gain peace of mind with a minimum of intrusion in my “other” life. In fact, I no longer view certain times of the day as my “other” life. If something needs to be done or if I come across a helpful tidbit that I could use at work, I make a note of it or dig in for a few minutes.

Instead of time, I view activities as separate and not available for interruption. So if I schedule an activity with family or friends, then work stuff is off-limits and completely out of my mind for that period. How am I able to disconnect for those periods of time? Because I don’t view non-scheduled personal time as off-limits for work and I also spend 30 minutes or so every night to wrap up loose ends and plan for the next day. I don’t view those 30 minutes as an intrusion into my personal life, but as the new normal of how business is done, or how I choose to do business.

In a Forbes article, Brent Gleeson identified 7 Ways to Blend Your Work and Life Successfully:

  1. Plan ahead
  2. Communicate
  3. Own each day
  4. Be fit
  5. Be organized
  6. Learn to say no
  7. Shut it down

Brent goes into detail on each point, but in a nutshell: manage stress and energy levels by living a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise so that you can maximize productivity at work and your enjoyment of scheduled non-work related activities; remember to add personal tasks to your daily to-do lists making sure to only schedule tasks that you can handle that day – in other words, learn to say “no.” Finally, shut down and disconnect at some point in the evening. This is especially important if you work from a home office. Even when I have a bit of work left, I shut down with the rest of the crew and take it up later that evening.

The one time I “unblend” is during vacation time as a disconnected week away results in a rejuvenated and creative engagement which is good for you and good for the firm.

If you’re having a tough time achieving work-life balance – which usually means that work is winning – give work-life blend a try.

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