There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.
Alain de Botton
If there is something people share as a struggle, it’s trying to maintain a “balanced” life — one with just the right mix of work, family, friends, and hobbies. When I look back at the ups and downs of my life, the one thing that is remarkably consistent is my failure to achieve ongoing balance. There have been plenty of times when everything has felt in sync, but just as many times when I’ve been at the mercy of an overstuffed schedule, provoking guilt or anxiety.
Maybe the problem isn’t the lack of balance, but balance as an ongoing goal. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life. Passionate and successful people have stretches of their lives when there is no balance, but they are guided by knowing they are making short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. That’s why new parents stumble through their days sleep-deprived and hollow-eyed. There’s no way to balance the demands of a newborn with all the other competing demands of careers, hobbies, and friends.
The same is true with a fulfilling career. I remember big work projects with weeks of 16-hour stress-filled days and adrenaline-fueled nights, rushing to get everything done on deadline. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.
The writer Elizabeth Gilbert explains why there’s no such thing as a balanced life:
To say that someone has found the secret to a balanced life is to suggest that they have solved life, and that they now float through their days in a constant state of grace and ease, never suffering stress, ambivalence, confusion, exhaustion, anger, fear, or regret. Which is a wonderful description of nobody, ever. . . . The world is like a dropped pie most of the time. Don’t kill yourself trying to put it back together. Just grab a fork and eat some of it off the floor. Then carry on.
Instead of thinking in terms of balance, maybe we need to accept we’ll almost always be unbalanced. The key is whether the imbalance is in service of our big goals and bottom lines.
What are your non-negotiables? Only one evening of work a week? Always attending your child’s soccer games?
What are your big goals that can crowd out everything except those non-negotiables? Getting a book published? Running a marathon?
When you look back at what mattered in your life, balance probably won’t be at the top of the list. It’s relationships and achievements that endure, and most of those happened only because you were willing to sacrifice balance.
Founder, Choice Literacy
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Gigi McAllister gives suggestions for finding pockets of time in packed schedules:
“I have time.” Ruth Ayres explains why these are the three most important words for literacy coaches to say throughout the day:
Here are some of our favorite quotes about time:
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Time is precious in classrooms, so Melanie Meehan shares strategies to ensure it isn’t wasted at the start of new writing units by teaching skills students may already possess:
Gretchen Schroeder has 42 minutes with her high school students each day. She explains how she establishes priorities to ensure she has Time for What Matters:
Carly Ullmer finds herself wasting a lot of time because of interruptions during student conferences, so she makes building stamina in her middle school students a priority:
In this week’s video, Mandy Robek finds kindergartner Mikey is lost in knowing how to use his time well during reading workshop. Her conference moves him from deflated to inspired:
In an encore video, Katie Doherty explains in a short interview why she finds a timer helpful in her middle school writing workshop:
That’s all for this week!