Another Article On Work Life Balance: It’s Damn Hard
How many articles have you read on work/life balance? How many of them say the exact same thing? Answer: basically all of them. Here’s the thing…all that advice about taking a vacation and turning off your cell phone is great, but it’s damn hard. As a society, we have become so glued to our mobile devices. If you doubt that, just take a look around the next time you are waiting in line to purchase an item at the grocery. I promise you’ll believe me then. We are walking to the park with our kids or waiting in line for something and think, “What’s the problem with just checking my work email or sending a short ping to my coworker? It’s no big deal.” The problem is, especially for those of us who have little people at home, they are always watching. Like, stalker status watching.
Last night my older children were playing outside on the swings and my husband and I were sitting on our deck, heads down, pounding out one last email on our cell phones. My 8- year- old came up to us and boldly declared, “You guys are just staring at your phones! That’s not good for you!” You know what? She’s right. While we Millennials (yes I’ll claim the title but please let’s differentiate from the younger Millennials who are eating tide pods and receiving participation trophies left and right) may be decent at not letting our jobs consume our entire lives, we are actually really terrible at disconnecting. I may say I work a flex time schedule and make my own hours, but I also check and recheck my Basecamp pings and work email WAY MORE than I should during my “off hours.” I know I’m not the only one. I have coworkers who are also working on their “days off” ALL THE TIME.
So how on earth do we fix it? I can read work/life balance articles all the livelong day and nothing ever changes. I think it requires real and conscious effort on our part to put down the phones/tablets/computers and truly walk away. You may even need to lay down certain guidelines to help you get started. For example, our family has specific rules about not checking phones during meal time. My husband and I also try really hard to not sit and scroll when our children are present. I think that is a good first step. A good second step would be to try to not sit and scroll at any time, or only for an allotted amount of time each day. It seems silly that we would have to institute such rules upon ourselves, but you’re joking me if you say you never do it. I’m pretty sure you have to own an old school Nokia to not sit and scroll at some point in your day.
Have you ever tried a media fast? It’s really hard. I’m not telling you to fast from your job- don’t hear what I’m not saying. I am telling you to not work when you shouldn’t be working! Over a period of time and after practicing it for awhile, it becomes more habit than discipline.
Put away those devices and sit on your deck. Just sit. Maybe even turn on the party lights and crack open a fresh craft beer. Sound good? Do it-you might just find out you enjoy it more than sitting and scrolling.