People often talk about work-life balance as a zero-sum game. If we want more balance, we have to sacrifice work outcomes.
I don’t think that’s true. Here’s a tactic to create more balance without sacrificing results:
Let go of busy work.
It has become cool to be busy. Working hard makes us feel worthy.
And sometimes hard work = productive work. That’s great when that’s the case! But my issue is when working hard becomes about feeling like you’re working hard, not achieving specific outcomes.
Meetings are a great example of this. They help us feel busy but are often a waste of time.
Imagine how much more time we would have if we let go of the desire to feel busy. We’d have more time for friends, hobbies, and rest. And we wouldn’t have to sacrifice actual productivity.
To be clear, this is really hard.
So much of our worth is wrapped up in our work. Untying that is hard.
Often times making these changes (i.e. reducing meetings) require big cultural shifts.
We won’t be able to make all the changes we want today.
But we can make progress: we can ask ourselves and others the hard questions, we can push for small changes, and we can join companies where we feel aligned with the work culture.
In this case, the hard work is worth it.