Forget Daily “Work/Life Balance”

Forget about daily work/life balance. Juggling too many things at once leads to stress and poor performance. Trying to balance everything by offsetting stuff with other stuff just leads to too much stuff. Set your priorities for each day (or each week or part of each day) and focus intensely on those few things.

Working 9-5 and ignoring work outside of those hours is suboptimal. Ignoring your personal life from 9-5 is suboptimal, too. Our energy, focus, and priorities don’t match up with traditionally scheduled hours.

Sometimes, like this past week, I have an intense push to get some curriculum changes out at Praxis. I spent less time with Amanda, cooked less, and read less than I’d like to. Trying to balance all of those things would have led to performing poorly at all of them. Instead, I got the curriculum work wrapped up this week by working a lot more than 8 hours a day and I’m unplugging for most of the weekend to spend time with Amanda.

Other weeks, I have fewer deliverables, so I spend more time reading in the morning to learn more and gain inspiration before I start working. Some weeks I focus on writing more or working on personal projects. This month I’m taking time every day to meditate and learn to draw.

The point is to deliberately pick a few things you want to do, own the tradeoffs, and intensely focus on those items.

I’m fortunate enough to have a very understanding spouse who tends to work in a similar way. Not having guilt about focusing on work at 11pm on a Wednesday is helpful. On days where one or both of us need to focus on work, we make the most out of the time we do get together: early mornings, late evenings, and time between calls. We focus on that time, even if it is short, and make it count.

Don’t try to balance everything every day. Do a few things each day, but do them well.