According to the Cambridge Dictionary, work-life balance is: the amount of time you spend doing your job compared with the amount of time you spend with your family and doing things you enjoy

If we agree on that definition, most of us are doomed. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average work day for full time work is 8.5 hours. The average commute (where I’m from, in metro Milwaukee) is about 45 minutes a day. Adults typically need between 7-9 hours of sleep – for the purposes of this exercise, let’s use 8 hours. The total of working, commuting, and sleeping is over 17.25 hours – more than 2/3 of the 24 hours you have in a day. By the measure of time, you are already out of balance. If you work longer days and have a longer commute, you are even more out of balance!

Instead of striving for balance, strive for living well. Here are 5 ways to live well.

  1. Enjoy your work. No matter how much time you spend at work, you won’t be happy if you hate every minute of it. That isn’t to say that you have to love every minute of it either. But, all things considered, try to find work you enjoy doing. After all, you are likely spending more than 40 hours a week doing it!
  2. Pick the right company. Where possible, work for a boss or an organization that values results. If the time you arrive and the time you leave is more important than the work you actually do, it is likely you won’t feel appreciated. When you don’t feel appreciated, your job won’t contribute to your happiness even if you like the work you do. 
  3. Honor the ebb and flow of life. There are times when you will need to give more to your job. When you get a big project or have to orchestrate a big event, you will probably have to give your work a bit more of your time. That is ok so long as it isn’t a regular thing. That is okay when you also allow yourself to take time to address things at home when needed. Here again, having a supportive boss and organization is key. 
  4. Integrate wellness techniques into your day. Stress is a killer. Literally. Be purposeful in finding ways to reduce your stress. Consider things like a lunch time walk, short mindfulness exercises (2 minutes is all you need!), and giving yourself an appropriate lunch break (no eating at your desk here!). 
  5. Take some time to define what living well means to you. What activities contribute to your feeling of well being? Make sure you are making time for them. If you aren’t sure, or if it feels like it has been an eternity since you did an activity for you, now is a great time to consider what wellness through activity looks like for you. 

Instead of counting hours or worrying about how to balance home with work or vice versa, focus on living well. Give yourself the space to focus. Get results that satisfy you. Find time to do the things you enjoy. Be well.