“You can't do a good job if your job is all you do.” – Katie Thurms
We've all heard about the beauty of a harmonious Work-Life Balance.
We've also never really been able to achieve this elusive equilibrium....
Yup, looking at you demanding workloads, family responsibilities, lack of boundaries, perfectionist ideals, and a sprinkle of guilt 👋🏼
I have definitely struggled with this.... finding time for myself, time for work, hobbies, my husband, my kids, my dog (obviously...), and time to take a nap - because naps are the BEST.
Let's change that.
Rather than aim for an unattainable equilibrium where separation and balance are the goals, let's instead strive for Work-Life Integration.
Work-Life Integration recognizes that work and life are a blend of experiences, rather than distinct sections; the ultimate goal is a happy, connected, and fulfilled life.
In this post we'll discuss what work-life integration means, why this mindset shift is a Game-Changer, as well as actionable strategies to make it a reality in your life.
PS! If the video below is an actual depiction of you trying to create balance in your life, I've got you!
Understanding Work-Life Integration
"We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in." – Arianna Huffington
This happens when you realize that work isn't something separate from life; it's a significant part of it.
Woo hoo 🎉
Some positive benefits of Work-Life Integration include:
Increased flexibility in managing your time and priorities
Increased job satisfaction
Personal growth and increased sense of purpose
Efficient time management
Alignment with your individual values and priorities
Guiding Principles of Work-Life Integration:
"Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it." – Maya Angelou
Here are 5 of Guiding Principles of Work-Life Integration:
1. Flexibility and Adaptability: Craft your schedule so it meets both work and personal needs without sacrificing one for the other.
👉🏼 The real key to successful fluidity and flexibility?
This helps you maximize productivity, reduce stress, balance priorities, and avoid overcommitting yourself. Having a solid framework provides guardrails that allow for flexibility and adapting to life's uncertainties.
Schedule out your week in advance on a Sunday - this is life changing, especially when you have many competing priorities
Leave space wherever possible to account for unexpected events and responsibilities
If your job allows, create a flexible work schedule so you can work from home, or pop out of the office for the doctor's appt.
Recognize when you're overwhelmed, and ask for help
2. Align with your Values: Align your work with personal values to promote fulfillment and overall satisfaction.
Find a way to bring more of what you really love and value into your life. Bonus if it's through your paid work, but if not, through volunteering, a side hustle, or a hobby.
👉🏼 I LOVE this Core Values exercise to help you get more clarity.
3. Quality over Quantity: Find the shift from hours worked to quality of work.
This applies to work, family, home, exercise, reading, you name it.
Think: sitting at the kitchen table together for 20 minutes, but everyone is on a device, vs phones down, engaged, and enjoying each other's company for 10.
Focus on being present and engaged to optimize fulfillment.
4. Sustainable Practices: Create an integration strategy that is sustainable long term. This will take trial and error and re-thinking when there are changes outside of your control.
Whenever possible, avoid behaviors or taking things on that lead to burnout, and prioritize practices that support your overall well-being.
👉🏼 Hint! Do an energy audit to collect more information.
👉🏼 Ask yourself after specific activities (and record your answers, you will forget, I promise!) - "On a scale of 1 to 10, how energized or drained do I feel right now?"
What can you learn from the responses?
👉🏼 Do something about the feedback.
5. Focus on Outcomes: Take a goal-oriented approach.
👉🏼 Define what success and fulfillment look like in different areas of your life, what does it look and feel like overall? Write. It. Down.
👉🏼Then set SMART-Y goals
👉🏼Review your goals daily (write them out and/or say them out loud to double the impact!), use them to guide your actions
👉🏼 Put systems into place that help you evaluate your progress.
Important! Do not forget to find daily time for yourself - it's critical to overall well-being.
The Most Important Step to Successful Work-Life Integration:
"Forget work-life balance…Do the thing you want and create systems to support that. Perfectly imbalanced in the direction you want to go is perfectly acceptable." – Richie Norton
The first, and I believe most important step, to successful Work-Life Integration, is to truly know and understand what it can and feel look like in your life.
Things change. There are new responsibilities, changing family dynamics, a new carpool etc... it's key to keep coming back to what's important, it's not a one and done.
👉🏼 Ask yourself, What does a successful, happy, fulfilled life look and feel like? Where and how do I spend most of my time? Does it align with the vision I have for my future?
** The Miracle Question is perfect for this.
👉🏼 Once you have the framework or even simple bare bones of what successful Work-Life Integration can look like in your life brainstorm ways to get there.
** Hint! A Mind Map is a great tool here
👉🏼 Identify - and then take! - the Next Best Step toward that vision. Keep it small and achievable. Go from there.
** This might look like setting up an office in a quiet room so you can have some more focused work time (therefore creating more time for other priorities), talking to your boss about working from home on Wednesdays, or getting up 10 minutes earlier to create quiet time.
Implement these Tips for Successful
"Work-life integration can be achieved by keeping a goal in mind: leading a happy, fulfilling life. Ensure your actions are meaningful in all areas. Decide when to work and work with a purpose, not just to log time." -Stephen Beach
Check out the practical tips below to thoughtfully and successfully integrate these concepts into your own life:
✨ Plan ahead. Every Sunday look to the week in front of you. Write in the non-negotiables, meetings, sleeping, eating, driving the kids etc... and then remember that YOU are one of them.
Be sure to schedule, yes, actually write it down in your calendar, time for yourself. That might look like your daily workout, a 5 minute meditation, time for reading, a walk outside, or candle making in the basement.
✨ Utilize a Shared Calendar where all of your work, personal, and family obligations are easily visible in one place so you can plan accordingly.
✨ Deep Work - find time for deep, uninterrupted work
**Side note: Read the thought-provoking book, Deep Work by Cal Newport. It will forever change the way you utilize your time and focus.
✨ Create clear goals - when you know where you're going it's so much easier to get there.
✨ Set Boundaries: Clearly define - and communicate - boundaries for both work and personal time to everyone involved, your boss, coworkers, your partner, their mother, the babysitter, the dog walker etc...
✨ Use technology to your advantage: remote work, Zoom calls, and time saving apps can promote flexibility and efficiency.
✨ Prioritize: Do what's important, not what's easy. This is challenging, and it's a Game Changer.
✨ Batch Similar Activities: Group similar tasks to maximize efficiency.
For example schedule meetings back-to-back on certain days, and on another, it's no meetings, just time for focused work.
✨ Time Block: Allocate dedicated time blocks for specific work, daily movement, family time, hobbies etc... Write them into your schedule and then.... stick to them.
✨ Say No: Decline any non-essential commitments - free up mental and physical space in your life.
✨ Prioritize activities that align with your values.
✨ Make it a habit to seek growth and development in all aspects. This might look like reading non-fiction books, setting a boundary, taking a class, stepping outside your comfort zone, speaking up in the meeting, going to workshops, or speaking with those you admire.
✨ Ask for help when you need it. This is HUGE.
✨ Create mindful moments with a simple pause.
✨ Try these top 5 No Cost Self-Therapy Tips to consistently add in self-care and compassion
I love the Work-life Integration philosophy as a fresh perspective and insightful mindset shift on how to create a successful, purpose-driven, and fulfilling life.
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