Remember when you were a little kid and you and your best friend tried to balance on the teeter-totter? She’d move forward an inch and you’d scootch backward an inch until you were in perfect balance. For one fleeting moment. Then she went up and you went down. Because balance is not a continual state.
And yet we still hear the words work-life balance as a goal we can achieve if we just scootch forwards or backwards an inch or two. Recently I’ve noticed a trend towards looking at this in a new way – as striving for harmony rather than balance. Where balance requires equal distribution of work and life, harmony integrates work and life together into a cohesive whole that is in alignment with your values and goals.
So I immediately set out to integrate my work and life into the cohesive whole of who I am, what I want to be, and how I want to live. Here are six simple concepts that have allowed more harmony in my daily life.
Be wherever you are
I’ve been interested in this concept since I discovered Buddhism many years ago. It’s like Mindfulness, but in a way that I can understand it. It’s virtually impossible to not think about home at work or work at home, so I don’t even try. But I’ve implemented a simple hack to be more of where I am, wherever I am. I turn off my phone. Then when I want phone time, it can be completely fabulous phone time.
Be creative with your time management
One reason I have felt jarred and out of harmony is the need to conform my life to external expectations of how I should spend my time. Who says a CPA office needs to be open 8-5? Mornings are when I do my best work, so my office hours start at 10. I also work better when my day isn’t broken up by appointments, so I only take meetings Tuesday – Thursday. This allows me to integrate my work into my life on my terms – harmony.
Integrate all life areas
I love to do strategic work that requires quiet and creative space and I also love spending time with the hubs. When I was trying to do strategic work part of me was wishing I was at home. When I was at home I felt guilty for not doing more strategic work. So I integrated them – the hubs is now my strategic partner and I can spend time with him and do strategic work. Full integration = harmony.
Practice letting go
We’re all familiar with the notion that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. In reality, it’s a lot more than just 5; it’s everyone in our orbit. So I’m careful who I invite into my orbit. This isn’t to say that I’m never around people that I don’t want to count into my average because life does exist outside of us. What it does mean though is that I limit how much time I spend with them – I put them on the farthest point in the orbit from me.
Work in your flame
I love this concept. There are aspects of both my work and my life that I love and value – this is my flame. And there are some that I just so much do not love or value – this is my wax. It won’t matter how well I balance the time I spend in each, I will never be in harmony. So I let go of the wax – generally by finding someone who loves doing those activities. This allows me more time to spend in my flame. Any time spent living in my flame is time in harmony.
If you can do even one of these hacks, you can move away from stress and towards more harmony in your work and in your life. Download our infographic and keep it near you as a reminder that balance is a myth, but harmony is achievable.