You sit down in your well-designed office with wallpaper and artwork that speaks inspiration to you. Your shelves are lined with books, new and old, and you might even have a few framed photos of your loved ones. On your desk is a pad of paper, a cup of tea (okay, coffee if you’re into that sort of thing), and a typewriter. “Work-life balance” looked a whole lot different in the days of Mad Men. You had an office phone, an office, and no ability to bring work home with you. Your life was separated into two.
Fast forward to the time of the future when we can bring all the knowledge of the world with us wherever we go, which also means we carry our work, anxiety, clients, bosses, etc, with us too.
Technology has done some incredible things for us. It’s given us the ability to work from home so we can be closer to our families. We don’t get lost (as often) because we have Google Maps at our fingertips. We even keep in touch with long-lost friends who live on the other side of the world with messaging apps and social media.
But with all things, there is an equal and opposite reaction–It’s the law of physics.
We can’t disconnect from our devices, often causing harm to the relationships with those right in front of us. We feel burnt out and overworked because work now follows us everywhere. We don’t even have our commutes anymore to let the stress of the day flow through us as we listen to bad radio and daydream about what we would like to create next.
When we have unlimited access to anything, we, as adults (I guess that’s what we are), have to build our own boundaries. Limit the time on our devices, put things away until our “homework” or self-care is done, embrace the ever-favorite word “no”.
The days of dividing our time between work and home are gone. Technology has blurred the lines and so it’s up to us to create those lines for ourselves. This might come with work hours, having an actual work phone that you can turn off, or simply putting all devices into a basket when you walk in the door and committing to so much time with just family, or by yourself.
What I’m learning more in my journey to slow living is that the world around me will never slow down. There will ALWAYS be things to do, projects to start (and finish), mouths to feed, friends to see, obligations to fulfill. It becomes your job now to say no.
No, to everything that sends that nauseating feeling in your gut to shoot through you and tighten you up. No, to everything that you know will take away from saying yes to the things you actually want to do. No, to extra tasks, events you don’t really care for, money you don’t want to (or need to) spend, no to anything and everything that doesn’t align with your values.
When you dream of work-life balance, it’s not one more thing on your to-do list like more time for self-care or adding healthier foods to your meals (even though those are great things too). Finding balance means saying no to the things that don’t serve you, that don’t align with your values.
The balance you’ve been looking for comes from you creating a line in the sand and building up your own boundaries.
It’s hard, it hurts, people may or may not judge you, but it will give you the life you’ve been dreaming of. One that slows down and is full of health, creativity, and community. How will you start to build boundaries around what’s most important to you?
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