Saturday, August 18, 2012

Forget Work-Life Balance: Let's find your Ideal Life Ratio


People always seem to be talking about this elusive idea of work-life balance. As an entrepreneur and currently sort of stay-at-home mom, this dichotomy feels hard to wrap my brain around. Are the 21 hours a day I spend caring for my baby work? (I co-sleep with a baby who wakes up about every 3 hours so I count that as an around the clock job.) Or do I count the 3 hours a day I go to my office/studio as work? Because there are a lot of days when those hours feel like a break! And the concept of life – does that include everything besides my work? What about when I’m reading Yoga Journal? That could be work because it might inform my teaching or it could be life because I’m at home sipping on a cup of peppermint tea while I read. Also, when you love your work it often doesn’t feel like work. Maybe you don’t need to “balance out” your time spent on tasks that pay the bills if they are enjoyable. Clearly I could go on but my point is this:  

I think the concept of work-life balance is outdated.

coffee + dark chocolate = essential work tools
I get the whole idea that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” My beef is that the word balance implies an even split and I don’t think that makes sense for most people.

Instead I’d like to start a conversation about the Ideal Life Ratio.

What’s an Ideal Life Ratio? Well I just made it up & I’m so glad you asked!

The Ideal Life Ratio is individualized, dynamic, and informative.

It takes into account all the pieces of your life that are important to you.

It changes over time as your lifestyle and priorities change.

Most of all it releases comparison and judgment and asks the question, “Is your life working for you?” If it is, fabulous! If it’s not, it provides a clear picture of where things are out of alignment.  

Play along at home...

1. Determine what parts make up how you'd ideally like to spend your time.

What are your priorities? You can keep it simple and echo the old work and life categories but I’d like to challenge you to break things down a little further. Consider categories such as work, family, friends, service, or self-care. If it’s for you, get even more detailed and break down the categories into the various parts that make up them up (i.e., work breaks down into researching, writing, meetings, big vision planning or self-care breaks down into physical activity, socializing, spiritual practices).  

2. Once you have a list of categories determine how much time you’d ideally spend on each item. 

For example, my current list is Work (20%), Family (70%), Self-Care (10%). I tend to think in terms of a week's time but please feel free to use whatever makes sense for you - a day, a month, a quarter. 

3. Now determine how much time you are currently devoting to each item. 

Do the two ratios match up? Fantastic! If not, make a list of small, doable action steps you can take to bring things into alignment. 

hard at work at last month's yoga & creativity retreat

Is your self-care time lacking? Schedule a coffee date with your best friend, book a massage, research yoga classes near your office, or block out an afternoon for yourself. Family time lacking? Commit to turning off your cellphone in the evening, stop checking email at home, use your vacation days, or schedule a family dinner. 

Your Ideal Life Ratio will change during different phases of your life. What is important is that it fits with what you want in your life at this particular time.



relaxing after a long day of mommying


I’m curious – what's your Ideal Life Ratio? What factors play into it at this point in your life? Are things aligned or do you need to make some changes?     
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