I fundamentally agree with what Nigel Marsh argues in this 10 minute video from TEDx in Sydney. He says that work-life balance for a society begins with the small steps each of us take to prioritize the other parts of life beyond job success. In a funny aside, he shares the schedule for an ideal day (which includes having sex four times).
The balance is a little different, though, when one’s work is essentially a creative pursuit. The distinctions between work and life are not so clear. For example, I find that some of my intellectual work includes elongated periods of focus that skew my sleep and eating patterns, and my job is to manage this impact. I also sometimes stew in mundane tasks in order to let meaning coalesce below the surface. Those periods can be full of doubt, fear, and preoccupations that feel misdirected. I know enough now to apply kindness and faith rather than a course-correction.
Marsh does give a helpful hint in finding one’s balance by suggesting that the time period we evaluate matters. My personal sense of balance is always fluid and I tend look for markers in my day (sleep, nutrition, and exercise) week (project advancement and chores) and months (travel and relationships) to gain a sense of how I’m doing. Buddhist practice also invites us to feel an internal balance at any moment.
My ability to feel balanced has much to do with the lens through which I am perceiving it, and usually offers a clue about where I can invest. But it’s still tricky, and gaining a finer sense of balance certainly means letting it all go haywire at times.