“First, the very phrase [work-life balance] suggests that work isn’t part of your life, it’s separate. Yet your career probably takes up a huge amount of your waking hours, so how could it not be an integral part of your life? The second issue is that balance is elusive and rarely attainable. At its core, the act of balancing is both inflexible and delicate, but life requires flexibility.”
So if “work-life balance” is not the best way to think about how to manage our competing interests and priorities in life and work, what is?
The Beauty of Boundaries
Laitin suggests a different focus: boundaries. Rather than worrying about an arbitrary and inflexible “balance”, thinking about “boundaries” that can be adjusted as necessary allows you to reconfigure your priorities depending on the facts on the ground of your life as it changes from day to day.
There will be times when work takes a larger chunk of your time and energy: starting a new job, say, or working on a particularly important and intensive project. And that’s okay. Conversely, there will be slow days or even slow weeks when work fades into the background and you can focus on friends, family, fun, and all the other things that make up your life.
Trying to keep everything 50/50—or 40/60, or 20/20/20/20/20, or however else you try to set up your life to fit a preconceived notion of balance—is ultimately not only unnecessary, but actually detrimental to your well-being. It poses artificial strictures on what should be a free-flowing process, giving you something else to worry about.
Timyo is About Boundaries
Timyo is very attuned to this “boundaries-not-balance” mindset. Timyo users are directly in control of how email fits into their weeks and days. By using Timyo to manage your incoming email, you can adjust your email work-flow depending on what else you’ve got going on. Timyo’s Agenda View let’s you easily integrate email and to-do lists into the rest of your life, work and otherwise.
And because Timyo lets you send emails with clear expectations, you can feel free to send a co-worker a late-night or weekend email without worrying that she’ll feel pressured to disrupt her own off-hours to get back to you ASAP.
“Life Isn’t Still”
By thinking of boundaries instead of balance, you acknowledge that life is messy, and you embrace the fact that flexibility is a crucial component of maintaining your own health.
As Laitin writes, “It’s fine to value stability, but[…] life isn’t still.”
Setting flexible boundaries is a great way to maintain control of all of your life’s diverse priorities, without constantly worrying if you’re “doing it right”.
In choosing to “go with the flow” and allow yourself the agility of boundaries over balance, Timyo can prove to be an indispensable ally.