Work/Life Balance with a Family

Spending your time purposefully.

Work/life balance is something I’ve heard some people discuss as being non-existent saying that if you enjoy what you do, then it’s always part of your life. But to understand what the balance is referring to, you need to understand and differentiate what your passion is and what the action of working is.

Quick disclaimer: When you’re living by yourself or if you don’t have a loved one, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. then, I can see how you can easily work nonstop, but when it comes down to those who have a family or significant other, things are a bit different. Even if you are single, you should still be able to get something useful out of this.

Having a passion

First, let me discuss the part a lot of us who enjoy what we do agree on: work is life. If you love what you do or if you are chasing after your passion on the side, you give a lot of your time dedicated to that passion. You spend just about every waking moment thinking about it.

For me, that’s graphic design. I’m constantly analyzing logos, mentally deconstructing a design, or trying to understand brands and the decisions they make to create a product or put out a certain ad. It does’t stop. I’m obsessed and constantly analyzing and researching.

So, yes, I understand in this sense, there is no shut-off or way to counter-balance this because it’s what I love to do. Design is something that is part of me and gives me a sense of existence. But, I would say when it comes to doing the actual work (sitting down to draw an Iconoflage piece, refine a logo on the computer, do a some market research, or write), it requires my physical time. I have to physically be somewhere with my mind and body completely focused on whatever it is I’m working on.

And this is what I’m talking about. Work that requires focus of your body and mind is what you need to counterbalance.

Having a family

At the time of writing this, I have been married to my best friend for over five years and we have a beautiful daughter who will soon be two. My daughter is constantly learning new things and having new experiences, and I want to be there to encourage her and help her learn and grow. And of course, my wife requires time from me so that we can make sure we maintain a strong relationship. Without spending time with her, we lose connection and the family falls apart.

My family is extremely important to me and is a part of my life where I need to spend my time.

Finding balance

So you understand there are two places in my life I spend most of my time. I’m either working, or I am with my family. This is where that balance comes in. I can’t spend focused time working with my family, and I can’t spend quality time with my family while I’m trying work out the details of a project. It just doesn’t work.

A balance is required to make sure I am spending the highest quality time either working or being with my family.

I currently spend most of my time working. I am trying to improve my skills as a designer, I’m learning about branding, and I’m trying to get to the point where I am paid enough to know I can comfortably support my family. Because I spend so much time working, it’s important to make sure that I also dedicate time to my family without work distracting me.

As Gary Vaynerchuck points out, “put family first” (just check his Twitter profile). I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always do a good job at that, but I’m working on it every day. My only concern is that I want to make sure I do my work so I can provide for my family and I know they are taken care of.

Having limited time

So, one might argue that there isn’t enough time to create this balance, but the truth is that you need to weed out the garbage and any time wasters that exist outside of work or family time. Stop wasting time scrolling through time-sucking feeds, stop playing video games, and stop watching TV.

There are times where you can do some of these things with your family, but it doesn’t happen all that often.

You need to take advantage of the time you have by dedicating it to things that will help you advance in what you care about and weed out the crap that won’t.

So maybe it is easier for people who don’t have a family or significant other to continue working without having something to counter balance it. But for those who do have people to spend time with, it’s important to understand that you need to provide quality time with them and that requires shutting off work-mode so you are fully present. That way, when it’s time for you to work again, they feel they have gotten a chance to be with you instead of you just being there even though you weren’t paying attention to them.

What is your biggest challenge finding a work/life balance?

Tell me about it below.

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