If you work in a high-demand job like me, then you might experience days when it feels like work-life balance is non-existent. So I’ll just start by saying the best way to prevent yourself from burning out is to accept that you won’t ever achieve the perfect work-life balance.
Let me explain.
The traditional idea of work-life balance implies they are mutually exclusive. They’re on opposite sides of the scale, so if you add to one side, you have to take away from the other. You want to keep your work demands strictly between the hours of 9 AM to 5 PM from Monday through Friday. On the other hand, you want to enjoy your life and personal time whenever you’re off duty. And in a perfect world, the scale of work and life would tip in favor of the latter.
Unfortunately, finding balance doesn’t come easily and in a world where we want to excel at our careers while also having a quality life, it’s damn near impossible.
When I was interviewing for my current job, I was warned by the recruiter, the hiring manager and other leaders that this is a 24/7 role. After all, the airline industry is just full of surprises. Secretly, I wondered if I could handle the pressure of always being “on” and ready to jump in at a moment’s notice. And then one of the people interviewing me told me that it’s not about finding the perfect work-life balance.
It’s about striving for work-life integration.
What does that mean exactly? Work-life integration recognizes that the two aren’t mutually exclusive – that sometimes your work creeps into your life and your life creeps into your work. Is it ideal that I have to check my email after work or over the weekend? No. But staying on top of my work helps me get ahead for the next day or allows me to leave the office early some days to run personal errands. Should I have stayed at the office all night to finish up a project? Hell no. I can always finish what I need to at home or on the go.
Integration also prevents me from having the “Sunday Scaries” or dreading the thought of opening my inbox in the mornings. I know what to expect because I’m regularly looped in. Does that mean that I’m always connected by having my work email on my personal phone? Yes, but in a way, I find it more flexible and definitely more sustainable.
How do you deal with the demands of work? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!