Work-Life Harmony

Don’t try for a work-life balance. Work-life balance assumes that there is always a trade-off between work and life. When you are trying to create a work-life balance when you take time to focus on work, you somehow are keeping track of this. And eventually, you will feel that you have done too much work and that you need to have some ‘life’ to balance out your work. When thinking about work-life balance, you find yourself in a perpetual state of guilt. Have a I done enough life with my family to balance out the work that I have done? Do I need to do more work, or life, to be in balance?

Instead of work-life balance, you should look at your life and strive for work-life harmony. Think about a dairy farmer. They don’t attempt to have a balance between work and life. They get up early and work like crazy. Then when their morning chores are done, they come in for breakfast. But if breakfast is 30 minutes or 75, it doesn’t matter. They aren’t on the clock to be paid by the hour. Maybe it’s a bit of bookkeeping or a Sunday nap that is in order. Perhaps the next task is to go out to the shed to fix a tractor. The repair may be a meld of necessity, and pure joy in regards to being able to tinker. For a farmer, there is no work-life balance. But there is work-life harmony. The work has to be done, and sometimes there are deadlines. But the rest of life also happens at the same time.

You should think of your work in terms of work-life harmony. Focus on the outcome your work should provide. Then go for the result. Maybe you can achieve the needed outcome in 45 hours of work rather than 60 hours. If this is the case, go and do it. Perhaps you can use that extra 15 hours for learning and exploration. Or maybe that extra 15 hours you will spend with your family.

One of the problems with modern formal employment is that you are paid for the hours that you do, not the outcomes you achieve. If you are salaried, you are expected to show up for work at a specific time. Time spent in the office is the only indicator that we have that you are doing your job. This approach might be changing as some businesses adopt results only work environments (ROWEs.) The good thing about results only work environments is that your performance is measured based on the results you achieve, not the time you spend at work. The hard thing about ROWEs is that management will have to know how to communicate, and measure, the results that they are seeking. The precise definition of expected results will be a good thing for employees and the organization, but it is a tough thing for many managers to do. (Or else more people would be doing it.) We know that results-oriented work environments can be a reality because we also see trends like on-demand pay.

Which brings us back to our main point: work-life harmony is becoming a possibility and a reality, even if you aren’t a farmer. Use the tools and approaches available to you to make your employment, hobbies, obligations, interests, and skills all be in harmony. You don’t need to operate out of the factory/grade school/punch clock mentality. You can operate of out a new paradigm in which sometimes you are focused on one part of your life that maybe you are paid for, and sometimes you can focus on another part of life. These aren’t separate buckets. It’s all the same life.

Start thinking about how you will make your work-life harmony in your world.

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