Executive Coaching Articles

Balance Work and Play

Recently Janet, a 37-year-old client of mine who currently works in consulting asked me:

“Joel, I often find myself lacking balance in my life. I have so much work to do that I don’t have time for myself and my family. I’d love to just quit my job and move to an island where I have unlimited time to do whatever I want but that’s just not going to happen. How can I have time to get my work done and still have time to play?”

I responded to her:

Your life and work are an integral whole. You are more than just someone who works. You have many roles in your life: you’re a friend, family member, community member, significant other, parent and more. You have mental, emotional, spiritual and physical needs. How well are you balancing your roles and your needs?

Take time to honor your needs, create calmness in your day and renew your spirit. You will find that focusing on cultivating more balance in your life can help your work life improve. You will be more relaxed, better able to focus and better able to produce high quality work. Coming from a strong personal foundation will increase your professional abilities and improve your view of your work.

Begin by considering your personal and professional roles and how much time you spend each week on each role. Examples of personal roles are: mother, father, sister, brother, best friend, confidant, daughter, son, mentor. Examples of professional roles are: employee, manager, mentor, team member, leader, specific job title. List each role in your life and for one week, carry around a small notepad and make note of how much time you spend on each role.

Next, review your needs in each area: mental , physical, emotional and spiritual.

  • Examples of mental needs: intellectual stimulation, diversity of thought, learning.
  • Examples of physical needs: food, shelter, water, exercise.
  • Examples of emotional needs: love, belonging, security.
  • Examples of spiritual needs: meditation, religious/spiritual practice on a regular basis, rituals.

Consider how much time you spend in each area and note which areas you’d like to spend more time on.

Next, look at how you can make room in your life to take the time to focus on the needs that have been neglected and the roles you want to spend more time on. What extraneous tasks can be eliminated from your life or delegated to someone else? Schedule time for yourself and treat it like any other appointment.