One Big Reason Why You Don’t Have Work-life Balance

Work-life balance tips

Picture yourself on a tightrope. You’re suspended high off the ground and in one hand you have a 50 pound dumbbell and in the other you have nothing. Start walking.

It’s an agonizing thought, isn’t it? Being out of balance and struggling to move forward. That’s what life is like for most people. Their lives are weighed down by the burdensome tasks of work, school, or home, and the rest gets neglected.

Balance is the answer, and there is one big reason you don’t have it. I’ll share this in a second, but first…

Why do you need balance?

Balance is important. It keeps us sane by having all aspects of our lives running at the same pace. When one aspect of life overtakes the rest, you’re allowing yourself to become too one-sided.

And, you know when your life is out of balance because there’s almost always a backlash, whether it’s from a frustrated spouse, calls from a bill collector, a disappointed coworker, or even from yourself in the form of depression or stress. The signs are there.

The one big reason you don’t have it

Here it is: you don’t have balance because you’re missing the Big Picture. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for you to see yourself as the tightrope walker I described in the first paragraph. Most days you see only what’s directly in front of you.

The Big Picture equals your purpose, your success, your happiness. It requires you to focus on what is important. Often, it’s lost in a sea of tasks and appointments that don’t fit in the Big Picture at all.

There’s a logical reason, of course. Your life is filled, wall to wall in most cases, with busyness. Economic times are tough and you’re working harder. Or, your household is in constant motion and you’re juggling multiple schedules. Whatever your role, you are likely pushed to the extent of your time each day. That leaves little room for anything else.

Here’s how to gain it

Here are some fundamental methods that will bring the big picture into focus and help you gain balance:

• Set goals. Stop bouncing from task to task like a pinball. Have a set purpose behind what you do, whether it’s at work or at home. Keep your goals in your day planner and integrate goal-related tasks into your week.

• Don’t overbook yourself. Look at your past to-do lists. If your days are filled with incomplete tasks then you’re not being realistic with your time, and you’re probably not allowing yourself freedom to pursue balance.

Watch the clock. Don’t let your work time spill over into other time. Set deadlines on your work and stick to them.

• Focus on you. Often the most neglected area is your own personal happiness. Look inward and spend some time on yourself. Block out time on your weekly calendar, and make it a priority. Take up a hobby, meditate, read a book – whatever is important to you.

Rotate. Each week, choose an area of your life to make your focus. One week it’s family, the next it’s your finances, the next week it’s your personal growth. Rotate them throughout the month.

Say No & Delegate. These are often the two most difficult things to do. Most people have trouble pushing work away, whether it’s for job security or because it makes them feel important. But, if you can’t say no, or you can’t pass the buck, then you’ll find yourself continuously overcommitted. Start slow. Try saying no or delegating once a week and go from there.

Do the essential. Live by the 80/20 rule, learn when to walk away, know when enough is enough. When you focus your energy on accomplishing only what’s essential, you can make time for something else. Recognize the point of diminishing returns on your activities and move on.

For more reading, here’s another great post on work-life balance from the blog Zen Habits.

How do you find balance? Share your thoughts about work-life balance by commenting.

[photo by frankh]
Jeff Doubek Day-Timer Spokesperson Jeff Doubek can be reached at