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Find the Balance Between Work and Home

There’s no such thing as work-home balance. That might be a strange way to start [an article] called “Find the Balance Between Work and Home,” but there really is no such thing. I meet with corporate leaders every week, and I’m asked many of the same questions again and again. CEOs want to know how to help their employees achieve “work-home balance” because they’re under the impression it’s some kind of magic formula for increased productivity.

If you’re happy, are you going to be a better employee? Absolutely. Are you going to be better at being a dad or a mom or a friend? Of course. Does it have anything to do with punching a time clock, or the number of hours you work in a week? No way.

There’s no such thing as an artificially created “balance.” There isn’t some formula you can plug in that says you need to be at work for eight hours, then at home for ten before you can work another eight hours. It’d be nice if the real world was orderly that way, but we all know it isn’t.

In real life, you’re always either heading for a crisis or coming out of one. That’s just as true for a Fortune 500 company as it is for a family. My own family had to deal with health crises that included two blown-out knees and a broken back in a thirty-six-month period.

The balance that comes in The Good Life is more like the kind you use to ride a bike. You’re always pedaling, and if you start to tip a little bit to the left, you lean right to restore your equilibrium. If you overcorrect, then you need to lean a little more left to get back in balance.

If you let your work control you [...] and if you keep saying to yourself, “I’m going to make just one more call, even though I said I’d be home before seven,” you’re losing sight of what the Good Life Is. If you committed to a big organizational meeting with your team at work, and you decide to play hooky so you can hang out with your son, you’ve also lost sight of what the Good Life is. Your job is not to work more hours, nor is it to break promises to the people in your professional life. Your job is to get done what needs to be done—both at work and at home—with the time you have. It’s not a matter of finding more space on the schedule, it’s a matter of picking the right things to be on the schedule, and having them on there at the right times.

This month’s article is an excerpt from my book, “The Good Life Rules.” Check it out here.