Work Life Balance is a UnicornI’ve been contemplating the idea of work-life balance a lot lately.

And there’s a good chance, so have you.

Gini Dietrich sent me down this rabbit hole with her post on how 70 percent of us hate our jobs.

Well, not me…I’m firmly in the 30 percent who love their jobs!

In fact, I’d venture to say that the entire Spin Sucks team is 100 percent in the 30 percent.

Right, team?

But, loving your work isn’t always contemporaneous with balance.

I’m going to tell you a secret…I’m writing this post at 12:14 a.m.

No one is making me work at midnight.

And, no one I work with, especially Gini, would ever encourage me to work at midnight.

So then, why am I working in the middle of the night?

Simply, I’m not sleepy and I felt like working.

Does this mean my work life balance is unbalanced?

I don’t think so.

What I do think is work life balance is like a unicorn—it’s a mythical creature we’ll never catch.

The PR Dream Team Weighs in on Work Life Balance

Here are some of the comments from the PR Dream Team on how they try to catch the work-life balance unicorn:

Corina Manea had some great tips:

For me it’s all about finding time for myself, whether it’s for reading, gym time, or simply be.

Tips: Schedule time in your week for yourself and no matter what keep at it.

In time you’ll see the results: More productive at work, more creative, happier.

Unplugging is one way for Aimee West:

I try to have one day usually Sunday where I don’t do any social media. For myself or others.

I also put my phone away during dinner.

Even though now it is just my husband and me (we’re empty nesters), we still try to just talk and reconnect.

Paula Kiger asked me to, “Let me know when you find it!”

And my favorite response came from Bob Schrichte,

I bought a Life Alert bracelet, so when I get one, I’ll be alerted!

Thanks Bob, I’m still cleaning coffee out of my keyboard!

Millennials Killed the Work Life Balance Unicorn

A recent New York Times article with Erika Nardini set off a maelstrom of debate about work life balance when she shared her unique interview style,

I’ll text you about something at 9 p.m. or 11 a.m. on a Sunday just to see how fast you’ll respond.

Her maximum acceptable response time?

Three hours…on the weekend.

She went on to clarify her statement,

It’s not that I’m going to bug you all weekend if you work for me, but I want you to be responsive.

I think about work all the time.

Other people don’t have to be working all the time, but I want people who are also always thinking.

Huh, always thinking?

Like about what outrageous thing you might say in an interview?

Or is it outrageous?

Ms. Nardini is CEO of Barstool Sports, Inc., the “satirical sports and men’s lifestyle blog.”

The company’s target demographic and probably most of the employees are millennials.

Millennials aren’t looking for work life balance.

They want to integrate their work and life and that doesn’t necessarily include traditional ideas about what’s work time and personal time.

Remember the Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey?

Her quaint and privileged comment, “What is a week end?” made us all chuckle.

But hey, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, the times they are still a-changin’!

It Really is About Integration, Not Balance

A while back, a good friend connected me with the super-smart, Stew Friedman, founding director of the Wharton School’s Leadership Programs and its Work/Life Integration Project.

He also founded Total Leadership which “is a proven method for producing sustainable change in all parts of life that can practiced by individuals, groups, or organizations.”

In a nutshell, the program has four bubbles, Work, Life, Community, and Self.

Instead of “balancing” each of you assign a percentage value to each and then show how they integrate with each other.

Honestly, it’s kind of like a PESO model for your life!

This is what mine looks like:

work life balance

Stew’s recent book, Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life is chock full of useful information about work life integration and smart ways to apply these skills.

In the book, he interviewed and researched some pretty amazing people, including Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Obama, and Bruce Springsteen.

It’s a great read for their stories alone.

The idea of work-life integration rings true to me.

Work life balance implies you can only have one or the other at any given time.

Work-life integration allows me to work at midnight and still incorporate parts of the other bubbles as I want.

And maybe, by integrating the important aspects of our lives, we can stop chasing the unicorn and start to really enjoy the ride!

I’m looking forward to your thoughts and comments.

Liz Reusswig

Liz Reusswig is the owner of EMR Strategies, a small business consulting firm, and is the founder/owner of Kids Theatre News, an informational website for the theatre community. She loves helping people discover the power of social media and online engagement. Liz lives in Pennsylvania with her hydrogeologist husband, their two theatre kids, and loyal dog, Coco.

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