The other day I was reminded of the struggles business owners and working parents face when striving for the euphemism “work-life balance.” I’d read a blog post in the Wall Street Journal written by a colleague who suggests that in today’s uber-connected, ‘always on’ world, ‘balance’ has a different meaning. We need to savor life in “bite-size bits of fun.” (See http://blogs.wsj.com/accelerators/2013/03/28/ryan-smith-savor-bit-size-bits-of-fun by Ryan Smith, CEO, Qualtrics). I couldn’t agree more.
I’ve often been asked how I ‘do it all:’ run a business, raise two grade school boys, be a wife, twin sister, daughter and friend; oh, and, find an hour to exercise or for personal downtime! My response is always: “I don’t do it all!” And, it’s true. I can’t unless I clone myself. (By the way, if you’ve seen another woman in San Francisco who looks just like me, it really is my twin and that’s another story entirely!) I simply try to spend focused, “bite-size” chunks of time in each of these roles and be as present as I can. Balance on this tightrope means that I must make a very concerted effort not to get distracted when dealing with so many business decisions as I watch my children quickly grow before me. I’m often reminded they’re only young for a very short period of time. They, too, deserve my 100% undivided attention and time when I am with them.
For those of you who know me, you may already be familiar with the passion I have for my business and the sometimes trouble I experience ‘logging off’ from my work life. It’s one of the hardest parts of being an independent business owner. I became acutely aware of this while recovering from a knee reconstruction earlier this year. Thankfully, I was able to plan my surgery for the end of December which allowed me to take time off when most MSR clients were also on vacation. Not only was I unable to move around after the operation, my priority had to be on my own recovery, and ultimately, getting back my strength. Luckily, this also afforded me two weeks of uninterrupted time with my family—a “digital hiatus” of sorts. I’ve rarely felt more fulfilled than when I was snuggling up reading with my giggling boys, watching them run and play, or laughing with family and friends while without my laptop or mobile device at the mercy of my thumbs. I’ve been thankful for that eye-opening ‘bite size’ chunk of time ever since.
As a result, and aside from some “Words With Friends” games and texts about pick-ups and plans that every busy mom experiences, I’m now attempting to celebrate what’s been termed a weekly “Digital Sabbath.” This has begun taking place on Friday through Sundays so that when I’m with my family and friends, I’m fully present; and when at work, I’m unequivocally attentive and focused on prioritizing my clients and ‘employees’ needs as well as other business responsibilities.
So perhaps in this overly-connected world in which we live today, what we should really seek is a true emphasis on ‘priorities’ versus ‘balance.’ For, balance is seemingly trying the impossible act of successfully walking a tightrope while juggling many things, and with ‘priorities,’ there really are such things—whether at home: a child, spouse, family member; or at work a client or employee.
What do you think? What’s your story about achieving work-life balance? Do you believe there really is such a thing? Or do you agree, it’s all about how we prioritize our chunks of time?