Wise In Time

Achieving balance between work and life can be a never-ending challenge. Purist health editor Tapp Francke breaks it down.
Photo courtesy @davidgrr

I am a busy person. I am the mother of two young boys. I run a bustling practice that is expanding rapidly. I manage an apartment building. I’m working on my second master’s degree. At any given moment, I will be juggling the kids’ after-school activities, preparing a dish for a third grade “around the world in a day” lunch, writing a paper, seeing clients, and taking calls for clogged toilets and malfunctioning fire alarms. I often find myself on the edge of sanity screaming, “No more!”

Sound familiar? We live in a culture where busyness is a badge of honor. If you’re not busy, then something’s wrong.

I was happy to hear about Barbara Corcoran’s parallel experiences in her podcast “Business Unusual.” She talks about how she struggled for years with work-life balance, until she came to the conclusion that such a state is just not possible. You cannot realistically give 100 percent of yourself to multiple tasks all of the time—there is not enough of one person to go around. So, how do you handle this crazy life?

Her solution is to compartmentalize. “I found that the best way to juggle the responsibilities was to clearly divide my attention and time between work and home,” Corcoran says. “So when I’m at work, my husband, Bill, wouldn’t dare call me, and the kids don’t call unless they’re dying.” By keeping work at work, and her home life at home, Corcoran was not doing the daily juggle that makes most people nuts.

I appreciate this concept as a way to handle the constant push-pull of obligations. Do I answer my son’s text about whether he can go to Jack’s house after school, or listen to my client tell me about their digestive issues? Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve implemented the concept of compartmentalization, and have to say that I feel much more balanced. I am not jumping between a work call and listening to my son’s story about how he loves grapes, or giving him half my attention while helping with his math homework.

In your quest to bring life back into balance, consider these additional strategies:

1. Learn to say no. It’s OK if you can’t make cookies for the bake sale, or take on a new client when you’re already fully booked. Prioritize.

2. Take time for yourself. I know, I can hear what you’re saying. Take time for myself? How? When? You must. Meditate, walk, go to a yoga class. Do something that you want to do. You will feel better for it.

3. Practice self-care. Make sure you eat properly. Take a break during the day. Get acupuncture or a massage. Slow down.

At the end of our lives, according to palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware, no one wishes they had worked more. They wish for more time with their loves ones. They wish they had taken better care of themselves, and they wish they’d let themselves be happier. STANDwellness.com