Work/Life Balance, is it just a dream or can it really be done?

One of the things we are hearing a lot about these days is something called work/life balance. The idea is that companies are supposed to realize that their workers have a life outside of work and that, mainly through technology and the New Enterprise, workers are supposed to be able to actually have a life outside of work. In a dream scenario I think, it would look something like this:

Scenario 1: It’s a Wednesday night and you and your significant other have a spontaneous idea to take Friday off and just spend the day together. You both call your bosses and let them know and then have a great Friday together. Thanks to the New Enterprise, you can check your email on Saturday and address anything critical that you may have missed.

Scenario 2: You have a child and that child is sick and you need to stay home and take care of him or her. No worries, you can check your email and work while you are at home.

Scenario 3: You just want to work from home for a day, so you schedule that every Friday you will work from home.

Each of these 3 scenarios involve working while you are at home. In fact most of us think that we have to be working or available 24/7. To me, that doesn’t seem like much of a balance. It’s more like a work all the time no matter where you are kind of life. I see this with a lot of co-workers as well. I hear stories of folks that work til 10pm or later each night and say that they have so much to do that they have to work all the time. Again, this is not a work/life balance, it is a work all the time no matter where you are life.

Thanks to the New Enterprise, we have the ability to connect to work anywhere we are. In fact, I think, that going into the office should be optional for the most part but more on that in another post. But, just because we have the ability to do something doesn’t mean we have to do it or that we should do it.

In my opinion, to really have a true work/life balance means to not work when you living your life. That means, if you go to an office each day, when you come home don’t read and respond to work emails. Be with your family, engage in your hobby, workout, be with friends, do anything other than work. If you work from home on a regular basis, set aside a specific space for work and when the workday is over, stop working and do the things I mentioned in the previous sentence. The work will be there tomorrow. I will all but gauranteee you that the top executives at your company do this or something similar. Now, you might be saying that your boss expects you to work all the time so you have no choice. I will argue (as both a boss and employee) that you need to get a new boss. Any boss that expects their people to always be working is not a good boss.

Now you might also be saying that all of this sounds good but there are no real life examples of anyone actually doing this. Well, I am here to say that, for the most part my family and I do this farily well. While there are times that either my wife or I will have to work for our day jobs at night, it is not a regular thing. Here is what our general schedual looks like:

4:30am: Wake up and workout

5:45am: Wake up our son, eat breakfast and get him ready for the day

6:15am: Head out to work and daycare

7am — 4:30pm: Work

5:30pm: Arrive home

6pm: Dinner

7:30pm: Put our son to bed

8pm — 10pm: RELAX (aka NO WORKING)

10pm (or sometimes before that): Sleep

This is something that works for our family and might not be right for your situation as everyone is different and has different things going on in their lives. But the key is, to have time when you are not working to actually no work. It won’t be perfect but if you plan for it, you will start to achieve more of a real work/life balance.