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Products become obsolete. Ideas become obsolete. Work-life balance is becoming obsolete. Shocking? It shouldn’t be. Work-life balance implies a total separation between the two categories of ‘work’ and ‘life’ and that’s a problem. It forces you to label things as either one or the other. Why would you want parts of your life disconnected from each other when you are one person living one life?

The Problem with Work-Life Balance

Trying to completely separate work from life results in a lack of synergy. Is it possible for my co-worker to be a friend, or just a person who shares my office space? Can I bill my employer for the time I spent brainstorming work ideas at 10pm? This lack of synergy between work and life makes you start to lose value and start spending more time fitting parts of your life in a box. Two major areas are affected with work-life compartmentalization:

  1. Relationships
  2. Work Productivity

Work-Life Balance and Relationships


Our lives are filled with multiple activities like work, sports, and religion and within these activities we meet people with different backgrounds. Each person provides us with an opportunity to derive value from that relationship. You begin to lose value in your life when you miss out on these opportunities because someone is categorized as a co-worker and therefor not in your social network.

For example, you befriend someone on a sports team whom you have many conversations. One day after a game, you begin to discuss a problem you’re having at work with budgeting. Your friend happens to have a background in finance and offers you some valuable advice and coaching. Is he or she now a work relationship or a friend relationship? Do you continue to seek advice even though s/he is just a friend? You are now wasting valuable time and resources debating how to categorize this relationship.

Work-Life Balance and Productivity

The midday slump is the time after lunch when motivation dips and is an infamous productivity killer at work. Since you’ve labeled and dedicated that space and time to work you have limited options on how to remedy the lack of motivation. Instead of taking a break from the day you resign yourself to staring off into space hoping for a miraculous recovery. What a waste of productivity!

Value of an Integrated Lifestyle

The value of an integrated lifestyle is eliminating the unproductive times and capitalizing on every relationship you have. It allows you to think outside the box and work when you best work. When the midday slump occurs, go for a run. Take an hour to reenergize. Your work and productivity will thank you. When a co-worker invites you out for lunch, take him or her up on it.

Those bonds that begin to develop will foster relationships, dialog, cooperation and thinking that will transcend the time in attendance work model. Power comes when your life is seamless and integrated.  By having a rigid time set for work and life you start to spend more time worrying about balancing each of those times and less on enjoying what you do. An integrated approach optimizes your total life allowing you to capitalize on each and every moment.

Stumbling Blocks to an Integrated Lifestyle

Though many employers are recognizing the value of providing flexibility to their employees, not all do. Some jobs such as food service workers and 911 operators will be regulated to time-in-attendance jobs without sweeping work model changes. However, that doesn’t stop people in those jobs from capitalizing on the relationship aspect of an integrated lifestyle. By reaching out to form relationships they can open up new opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have existed.

What Now?

The need for a revamped business model is great. An integrated lifestyle approach can empower people to take a higher level of ownership of their work and increase productivity. This approach also allows people to capitalize on every relationship in their life without regard to if the person is in a work or life category. The current work-life balance model is harmful and leads to loss of productivity and missed relationship opportunities. It’s time for a shift in thinking and to strive for a more integrated lifestyle.

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Posted by Craig Williamson

I am the Vice Chairman of Washington Policy Center - one of the nation’s premier State think tanks which conducts research, publishes studies, and educates citizens on public policy issues facing our region. Also, I am the owner of MM Comfort Systems, a leading Puget Sound Region provider of heating / cooling system installation, retrofit and services for residential and light commercial markets.

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