The idea of work-life balance is so appealing. This is especially true when you are feeling out of balance - when you feel like you are just barely keeping your head above water. Yet striving for someone else's definition of work-life balance can be stressful itself...especially as we approach warmer weather with its increased activities and events.

So many work-life balance guides and articles promote the idea that each day should be balanced on its own. Somehow, you should be able to devote time to family, work, relaxation and taking care of yourself within each 24-hour time period. In some cases, it's almost a math equation: 8 hours work + 4 hours family time + 4 hours fun/exercise/eating = Balance. Uh-huh. That is just not realistic for most of us, nor does it fit our unique lives.

What is realistic is the idea of an integrated life that is defined by the components that are important to you and give you the balance that you want. This isn't the work-life balance from the '90's. This is a holistic approach to looking at your life over weeks and months and even years. This is acknowledging that some days and weeks will be heavy with work and others with time devoted to family.

The key is to think of how each piece works with the others - how they integrate to round out the life and lifestyle YOU want. It is usually not the lifestyle that a mathematic work-life balance equation wants to give you. Here are 3 tips to get you started on that integrated approach:

  • List the things that really matter to you over the next 3 to 6 months. Is it spending time with your kids? Getting a promotion at work?
  • Honestly evaluate how much time - as percentages of a whole - you want to spend on these areas. If you want to spend 50% of your time on work and career, write that down. If it's 75% or 25%, that's OK too.
  • Put your pieces together to form a wheel. Having one piece be large does not mean that your wheel won't turn smoothly or that it's lopsided. What you are really looking for it how all the pieces relate to each other and whether that integrated mix is right for you. You can also think of it like a recipe - adding, reducing or taking out ingredients that don't suit your tastes or needs.

Figuring out what your integrated life looks like is a big part of letting go of stress. It helps you let go of the ideals that society and the media propose are solutions to us doing too much in one are and not enough in another. It helps you stop being a math equation and start being a human one.

Author's Bio: 

Jennifer Peek, MBA, CPA specializes in teaching busy women professionals and executives to get control of their crazed schedules, renew their energy and vitality, be more productive in less time and find a joy and balance they didn't know existed. You can get a copy of her COMPLIMENTARY "Having It All Without Losing Your Mind" Sanity Kit to help busy women executives get started on the road to greater success in all areas of their lives at