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The Mathematics of Work/Life Balance

by Karen Auld

I am a Certified Success Coach, a student of motivation and self-empowerment, but I’m also a scientist. Math is the language of science. Math is a tool us scientists use to make decisions and I want to use some math with you today to explore work/life balance. I promise this isn’t one of those dreaded word problems that still haunts you from high school.

Ok. Get out a pen and paper. I want you to create a table. Call your table “Work/Life Balance.” Write that on the top of the page. Now I want you to make two columns. Label one “Activity” and the other “Time Spent.” Now jot down the activities you do in a normal day in the first column. Capture things like working, commuting, sleeping, eating, meal prep, grooming, time for your loved ones, etc. Don’t forget stuff like chores too.

Now in the second column estimate the time in hours you spend on each activity. Add up the time. Are you close or even over 24 hours? I bet if you add “me time” you’ll be over 24 hours. Do you see any balance? Numbers don’t lie. So, what do we do with this table? There is a simple way to fix it.

Go to the top of the table. Scratch out the work “balance” and write “harmony.”

I learned this trick from the book “Abundance Now,” by Lisa Nichols. Lisa writes, “Balance is a myth, harmony is a must…it’s important to give all parts of your life the time they deserve-and that’s not necessarily equal time for all parts.” Some important words there; “the time they deserve.” Balance implies that there is an equality, but we know from the table that there is no equality. Harmony is about an agreement, synergy. It’s about quality over quantity.

A few years back my Dad was in the hospital. He called me one morning and asked if I could come see him. I knew my calendar was packed with conference calls, but I told him yes. I figured it would be no big deal for me to do the calls from the hospital. I rushed into his room, gave him a quick kiss and told him I needed to jump on a conference call. After my call I had to send out a bunch of emails. Then it was time for my second call. By the time that call was done, I was hungry. I told my Dad that I was going to run out for lunch and asked him if he needed anything. He didn’t ask for anything which I remember thinking was odd. He always wanted a Snapple Iced Tea. I came back opened my laptop and got on my next call. I finally finished my work about 3:30 and I realized my Dad was pissed. Why was he mad at me? I did what he wanted. He wanted me to with him all day, but was I really with him? I thought my presence was enough. That me being at the hospital was work/life balance, but my presence is not what he needed from me that day. He needed quality time, not just time.

Bring harmony to your time and release the idea of balance. Consciously schedule the important things. Be present in all the things you decide to do. If you only have a half hour to give a loved one tonight, make it the best 30 minutes ever. Harmony is all you need to give to your work and your life. And with harmony, no math is required.

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