Stop Thinking Work-Life Balance, and Start Thinking Work-Life Integration. You’ll Be Happier

Written by Paul Marchildon, on July 29, 2014.


“Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for what you will.”
-Slogan of the 19th-century Eight-Hour Day Movement

Innovations, from the printing press to the automobile to the Internet, have knocked down real barriers of geography and time. It’s funny that we insist on putting artificial ones in their place! Take the weekend, for instance. 48 hours for fun and relaxation. Go. Now! You’re wasting time. As the lines between “work” and “life” blur, this construct imposes guilt when we work and anxiety when we don’t. So why cling to it? Why not give “what you will” more than one third of your time?

Blame It on the BlackBerry

How many alerts do you have set? Emails, texts, tweets, LinkedIn updates… most of us are constantly inundated with demands for our attention, all of which seem urgent. Leaving a work email unread all weekend or a text unanswered is unfathomable. As Davidson College sociology professor Dr. Gerardo Marti says:

Work is no longer confined to the office. Now it bleeds into our time at home, our commute, even when we’re on vacation. It’s harder and harder for us to segregate our work identities from our home lives. For many people, the two have become one and the same.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. When you enjoy what you do, working on the weekend isn’t drudgery. Spending a few of those 48 hours on work can help you achieve focus and get organized for the week ahead – and it can free up time for meditation or socializing with colleagues Monday through Friday. But be sure to add a few more leisure activities during the workweek to balance the extra work during the weekend.

Establish Clear Objectives

The trick is to know what you are really trying to accomplish, both at work and in life. What are your goals and objectives? Define them to yourself, and then check in on them regularly. If you’re working on the weekend, great. But does that mean you’re cutting into your leisure pursuits and your leisure goals? If so, how can you adjust your schedule so you accomplish everything you want and need?

Employees Lacking Motivation?

Paul Marchildon, an experienced Leisureologist, can work with you and your team to increase productivity by incorporating a leisure mindset into the workplace.

Whether you’re talking about your professional objectives or your personal objectives, find the times when you’re most effective. You should always do whatever it is you do when you do it best. I’m a morning gym person, for example. I know that’s when I’m going to give it my all, so that’s when I go. Other people like an evening workout to de-stress from the day, so that’s when they should go.

Once you recognize when you’re at your best for different activities, schedule your time and make sure nothing interferes. If you’re at your creative peak at 9 a.m., for example, when your coffee and breakfast are kicking in, block that time off for writing, art, or creating presentations. And give it your complete attention. Forget about the BlackBerry; turn off the alerts. The sky will not fall in.

It may even turn out that you work most effectively on the weekends. Why not? Just make sure you’re doing what you do when you do it best, and keep track of your goals and objectives. If you tend to slow down around lunchtime, why not go to the art gallery on free Wednesdays for 2 hours? Work/life balance is a myth, one that sets us up to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious. Work/life integration, though, is achievable. It acknowledges that the two do meet, that they do become inextricably linked – and that it’s ok.

With a leisureology mindset, you can do “what you will” virtually all of the time. Sure, there’s the odd onerous task here and there, but most of the time, you’ll be engaged and interested in what you’re doing. There are 168 hours in a week; instead of segmenting them into arbitrary “work” and “fun” times, why not use each one to your advantage?

Paul Marchildon

Paul Marchildon

A self-proclaimed Leisureologist and Motivational Speaker, Paul Marchildon applies his vast expertise in human engagement to help leaders create more productive, effective organizations. Building on an influential career as a pioneer in employee incentive and loyalty programs, strategic creative communications, social media and mobile marketing, Paul provides insight into the advantages of incorporating a leisure culture in the "work" place. He is past president of Society of Incentive and Travel Executives’ (Site) Canadian Chapter and founder of Atlantis Creative Group (now part of Maritz Canada). He is one of a select group of Canadians who have received the Certified Incentive Travel Executive (CITE) designation.