• Entrepreneurship

Understanding work-life balance

Guest Blogger | May 29, 2012

Ellis Orlan, BA, CPA, SF Partnership LLP, Toronto, ON, CYBF Mentor, eorlan@sfgroup.ca

Mention the words ‘work-life balance’ in any informal business environment and watch the eyes roll and hear the snickers.  No realistic business person expects to achieve a perfect harmony and balance between work and life.

According to WordSpy.com, the term was coined in 1986 and has grown in usage exponentially since 1996. It has been pressed forward by factors such as home offices, information overload, smart phones and single parenting, to name a few.

WordSpy.com defines (Work-life balance) as: a state of equilibrium in which the demands of both a person’s job and personal life are equal. So really, what is work life balance and is it possible to achieve?

Looking at the extremes, a workaholic can never switch gears and is always thinking, talking and moving forward with a business agenda. At the other end of the spectrum are people that arrive late, leave early and spend much of the day away from their desk.

The missing element from these two extremes is clear, it’s balance. Balance will look different for everyone and it’s important for you to identify what it means for you. For example, some entrepreneurs and professionals may find that 40-60 hours a week of work is best for them (and this could vary depending on the time of year). This does not mean when you hit 60 hours you have to quit even though there is important work left to do, or that you can’t pack up for the week until you reach 40 hours. However, it could mean that for each hour you go over or under, you make a commitment to dedicating an equal amount of time to the other part of your life. That’s balance.

You don’t necessarily need a personal coach or an expensive three-day time management course to find balance between your work and your life. Here is a simple formula that works for me: There are 168 hours in a week. Balance is 56 hours for rest, 56 for work and 56 for life. While my weeks rarely work out this way, it is a good reminder of what balance may actually look like.