Is Work-Life Balance a Myth?

Are you struggling to balance your work and personal life? You're not alone. It's not just parents who are juggling career, family, and personal time. Younger adults and boomers, who also find themselves working longer hours, are seeking more flexibility and balance.

Finding a balance between work and personal life is not just about quality of life—it's also about your well-being. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, evidence suggests long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardize safety, and increase stress.

Many companies are recognizing the importance of work-life balance and incorporating flexible work schedules and other benefits to help employees. CNN Money recently reported on large companies (those at least five years old and have 1,000 or more US employees) ranking them based on their work-life benefits. The top five companies were SAS Institute, Edward Jones, Camden Property Trust, REI, and Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants.

Employee benefits are valuable; however, work life balance expert Nigel Marsh says this issue is too important to be left in the hands of employers. After all, he says in a TED Talk, corporations are designed to get as much out of you as they can.

How to Achieve Work-Life Balance

Marsh says that small investment of your time in the right place can transform your life.

The Mayo Clinic offers help to reclaim control of your life.

  • Track your time. Decide what's necessary and satisfies you most; cut or delegate everything else.
  • If available, take advantage of employer options, such as flex time or telecommuting.
  • Say no to things you can't—or don't want to—do. It frees up time for more meaningful activities.
  • Leave work at work and create boundaries between work and personal time.
  • Learn to manage your time.

Marsh warns, however, that the concept of work-life balance does not necessarily mean both aspects of your life are equal. What's best for you will fluctuate over time so you need to be flexible and realistic. For instance, you may have to extend the completion of your goals over months or years.

LeslieBeth Wish, EDD, MSS, reviewed this article.




"Work-Life Balance Defined - What it Really Means!", accessed July 17, 2013.

"Work-Life Balance: Tips to Reclaim Control." Mayo Clinic, July 12 2012.

"Nigel Marsh: How to Make Work-Life Balance Work." TED Talks, Filmed May 2010

Nina Bahadur. "Work-Life Balance Quotes: What People Are Saying About 'Having It All'.", April 5, 2013.

"Best Benefits: Work-Life Balance." Money Magazine, February 6, 2012.

Renee Montagne. "When Employers Make Room for Work-Life Balance." NRP, March 15, 2010

OECD (2011) "Work and Life Balance," in How's Life?: Measuring Well-being, OEC Publishing, DOI: 10.1787/9789264121164-8-en.