5 Ways to Create Balance Between Your Work and Personal Life

Kari-Ann Levine
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I will be the first to admit that I do not have the balancing act between work and the rest of my life perfected. But the idea of balance itself suggests that perfection isn’t quite what we are striving for anyway…

As we know from our yoga practice, perfect balance simply does not exist. When we try to stick the “perfect” balancing posture, we embody a rigidity that is far too great to bounce back from even the smallest of wobbles.

Rather, balance is like a dance, where the rhythm is found somewhere between being limber enough to move with the changing energies that flow through our bodies, and being firm enough to steady ourselves against those fluctuating currents.

Finding work/life balance is no different. There is no perfectly prescribed algorithm, no all–encompassing equation that informs us of the exact parameters we place around that which we call work and that which we call play. Part of the dance itself is the swaying back and forth from moment to moment to find the rhythm that feels right for us.
 
This article is not intended to precisely define what a harmonious work/life balance looks like. Instead, it offers a few considerations for you to dance with so you can find your own personal work/life rhythm.
 
 

1. To receive is to give

Imagine yourself standing and looking straight ahead. Then, imagine a golden, energetic light that fills you up all the way from bottom to top.

When we give of ourselves to our jobs and other responsibilities, we drain some of that golden energy. (Although if we enjoy our work, it can also fill our energy levels in other ways.) The only way to fill it back up again is to spend time doing things that energize and nourish us from the inside out — spending time with friends and family, practicing yoga, or maintaining a personal hobby or project.

If we continually drain our energy without ever doing anything to fill it back up, eventually we won’t have anything left to give, either to our jobs or to the activities that nourish us. (It’s a vicious cycle!)

As an extra challenge, I dare you to spend so much time in these nourishing activities that your golden light begins to overflow. With this much energy, can you imagine what you’d be capable of when you get back to work?
 
 

2. Constantly re-evaluate what you “need”

Many of us find ourselves stuck in a trap where we are in a perpetual grind towards a perceived desire. It is important to get clear with ourselves about what these desires are at their core. It is easy to get swayed by our culture of materialism, where the most basic of human needs and desires are equated with purchases both big and small.

Do we really want the new car we have been working overtime for, or are we actually reaching for the sense of accomplishment and freedom that the car is a cultural-psychological symbol for? Are all the late nights and short weekends really going to give us the ease we’re expecting from retirement? Or would a less stressful job coupled with an honest look at what we actually need for personal comfort and contentment give us the same sense of relaxation, now?

When we get clear with ourselves about what our true goals and desires are, we empower ourselves with the capacity to see how much and what kind of work is necessary to meet these wants and needs.

3. Be flexible with your to-do list

How many times have you found yourself micromanaging what you will do, when you will do it, how long it will take, and even how you will feel during it? No one likes to be micromanaged. So why do it to yourself?

We must remember that we are human. Our level of energy, our capacity to focus, and where that focus is naturally being drawn to, is constantly changing. Instead of dictating to ourselves the precise way we will accomplish the tasks on our to-do list, we can work on the tasks that compliment how we’re feeling in each particular moment.

Do you have a surge of motivation in the morning? Use this time to work on those big projects that require your most acute focus. Start feeling sluggish in afternoon? Save your less-demanding tasks for this time. Or schedule a meeting with a client or colleague you’ve been jazzed to connect with and let that encounter energize you.

When we give ourselves the flexibility to work with how we’re feeling — rather than forcing the when, what, where, and how of our work over ourselves — we insert a little bit of leisure into our work itself. And when we can blur the lines between what feels like work and what feels like leisure, this is how we maintain true balance, no matter what we’re doing.
 

 

4. Working to live or living to work?

It is one thing to bring a sense of leisure to our work, but what about bringing our work into our leisure? Even though we can categorically label our lives as work and play, psychologically and emotionally there is no real separation. Our work will always impact our leisure, and our leisure will always impact our work. The question then, is this: how do we make this overlap work for us?

This leads us into what may be touchy territory for some of us. But in order to have an open and honest discussion about work/life balance, we must ask ourselves those tough questions. So here it goes….

Do you enjoy your work?

Do you feel your work enhances the quality of your life more than just financially and materially — but also on an intrinsic, soul level? I ask this because when our work is an expression of our truest, most essential self, the lines between what is work and what is play get fuzzy (in a good way!).

In this blur, the entire notion of “work/life” balance doesn’t even make sense any more. When we are working to live, finding balance is futile. But when our work becomes intricately woven into our lives and how we derive meaning from them, balance comes naturally.
 
 

5. Harmonizing your work and life

Balance — be it in a yoga pose, or in the spaces we carve out for work and play — is not static, it’s always changing, and it’s never perfect. Balance isn’t found by rigidly holding on to an idea of what perfect balance looks and feels like, but rather by moving and swaying with the changing rhythms of our lives.

I once knew a classically trained guitarist who told me that in the most enchanting melodies, the beauty is not found in the notes themselves, but rather in the spaces between them. Perhaps balancing work with the many other aspects of our lives is the same way. Perhaps true balance isn’t found within the work or within the play individually— but rather it is found in the spaces between them, where the two can seamlessly flow together in harmony.

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Kari-Ann Levine

Kari-Ann is a freelance writer, yoga teacher, and CrossFit coach. Her approach to all three is to get down and dirty with the realness and rawness of being human. Kari-Ann believes that spirituality is experienced right here, right now – in all the dust and divinity that is the earth, our body, and the seen and unseen. Her passion is to be a continual student of her heart, body, soul, and mind, and to share what she learns with others.

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