How to Get Closer to Work-Life Balance

Last Updated Nov 12, 2008 7:02 PM EST

2462878725_03449d68c5_m.jpgTo some extent, the slowing economy has affected my bottom line, as I'm sure it's done to plenty of other people out there. But as my workload lightens a bit, along with my income, a silver lining of sorts has appeared.

I've found that I've been able to focus a bit more on the things that matter to me outside work. For example, I was able to spend the Veteran's Day holiday with my son -- all day long. We hit the zoo and the movies and had a great time.

As a busy freelance writer, there have been plenty of holidays where I'm still frantically toiling while my family life passes me by, and I have to say the experience made for a nice change. Which gets me thinking about how I can keep making that balance happen, even with a full workload.

Luckily for me, Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits recently proposed four straightforward steps to creating a life that isn't all work.

1. Realize that work *is* life, to some extent. Leo writes:

"Of course, when people talk about a work-life balance, they mean that we should find a balance between work and our personal lives, which is definitely true. But it's important to realize that if work is really something you love, you don't need to cut it short in order to spend more time at home in front of the television."
2. Figure out what you love. What would you want to do if you didn't have to do something else? Again, it might include work. I'm a writer, and I like to write. But outside of that, I like to play tennis, dabble in digital photography, tinker with Web sites, watch movies, train my dog, and of course spend time with my family and friends. What do you love to do?

3. Create space to do those things. How? Take a look at how you spend your time and what's on your to-do list. Then...

"Now think about all the things you do, and how many of them are on your short list. For the things not on your short list, what can you eliminate? Some things might be big commitments that are hard to get out of -- but over time, you can get out of them. Learn to say no, and learn how to tell people that you can no longer commit to doing something. It's not always easy, but remember that this is your life, and you should do what you really want to do, not what others want you to do."
4. Find a balance that feels right for you. And make it a balance between several things you love, not just one, so you keep things interesting. You can help create balance by scheduling blocks of time for things you find important, setting limits for yourself (working a maximum 10-hour day, for example), making dates with family and friends or even yourself, having a partner to do things with, and examining your life regularly.

Doesn't sound that impossible, does it? I'm hoping to find that these four tips will make my temporary silver lining a little more permanent.

(image by mamjodh via Flickr, CC 2.0)

  • CC Holland

    CC Holland is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a number of national magazines. Online, she was a columnist for AnchorDesk.com and writes regularly for Law.com and BNET. On the other side of the journalism desk, she's been a managing editor for ZDNet, CNet, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she earned an APTRA Best News Web Site award.