As nice weather approaches, I start to think about spending more time at home, sitting on my deck and enjoying the weather. Those thoughts always bring to mind concerns about work-life (or school-life) balance.
Years ago, I used to try to balance my busy schedule. As I look back, I think striving for balance was more stressful than not having balance at all. In 2009, I came across this post: “Work-Life Balance is Bunk.” The more I read Val Kinjerski’s thoughts on work-life balance, the more I found that I agreed with her.
Rather than trying to compartmentalize my priorities into work/family/leisure etc., I now try to integrate my life. I agree with Ms. Kinjerski that everything in life is connected. As I decide where to focus my time, rather than feeling guilty about my decisions, I see how everything in my life is connected. Doing one task does not eliminate another. I am not talking about multi-tasking. I am talking about placing my focus on the task at-hand, knowing that in the next moment, my focus might change.
Everything in my life contributes to my “deeper purpose,” which Kinjerski references. Changing the emphasis from work to family to leisure throughout the day is natural and comfortable. By integrating what we do, we are able to shift focus as needed, picking up where we left off and placing our emphasis where it needs to be at the time. There are certainly times in everyone’s life where one aspect takes priority over another. While these times might represent larger issues, allowing integration of our life’s work can relieve stress every day.
I know that you, as students, have many competing priorities. Try thinking about integration rather than balance and see if integrating your priorities, rather than seeing them as competing with one another, makes a difference in your daily life. As we pass each other in the halls on campus, feel free to stop me and talk about how integration is working for you. I would love to have the conversation with you.