Work Life Balance and Workaholics

In his HBR Network Blog, Kevin Evers makes the case that workaholics shouldn't try to achieve work life balance. He writes, "There is always more work to do, and they [workaholics] are willing to do it." His comments echo what I teach in Juggling Elephants training programs about the fact that there will always be elephants-things that seem physically, mentally, emotionally, or even financially heavy and difficult to manage. The elephants don't stop coming until we die.

His solution is that workaholics should set boundaries for themselves, limiting the time they spend on a task (or at work) to allow for other activities. It's a perfect complement to the "3 rings" concept. Todd Musig and I teach that you need to allow time in your daily or at least weekly "circus" for quality acts in all 3 rings-work, relationships, and self. At any one point your circus (life) may appear to be unbalanced, with maximum intensity in one ring. Over the course of a week or certainly month, however, you should be able to look back on moments where you have worked just as hard on your relationships or taking care of yourself as you have on the tasks at work.

You have to plan for all 3 areas instead of simply focusing on getting all your work done and then hoping that there is time for family or friends or personal renewal. As Evers writes, "There is always more work to do."