Career Woman

Let’s be honest – there’s no such thing as work-life balance


We hear so much these days about ‘work-life balance – about the utopian notion that somehow we can magically equally balance all the conflicting demands from business and home life, and all our other interests and passions. But really, the notion of ‘work-life balance’ is nonsense.

What does it even mean?

The phrase ‘work–life balance’ was first used in England in the late 1970s and later became part of the US lexicon in the mid-1980s, to describe the balance between someone’s work and personal life. An admirable concept, however, more and more the phrase has come to represent the increasing encroachment of work in to someone’s personal life.

For mine, the concept of ‘balance’ conjures up an image of a perfectly horizontal see-saw – where every aspect of your life is equal, and completely symmetrical. Well, it’s not. We don’t spend exactly equal amounts of time, joy or endeavor on our work as we do on our families or as we do on our personal pursuits. And we don’t want to. Our lives are a perfect mishmash, hodgepodge and concoction of all of the various things we do each day.

Are these things in balance? No.

So why do we persist with the lingo? Why do employers continue to promote themselves as offering great ‘work-life balance’ on the one hand, but then expect their staff to be available by all means of modern technology outside work hours?

The messages are mixed.

Data recently released by the UK think tank ‘Workplace Trends’ on workplace flexibility (‘2015 Workplace Flexibility Study’) bears this confusion out, with 67% of surveyed employers who participated in the study believing that their employees have a balanced work-life, and yet 64% of the same participants expect their employees to be reachable on their personal time.


Of the employee participants, 45% felt they do not have enough ‘Me Time’ each week, and 20% admitted to spending 20 plus hours a week working during their personal time. No ‘balance’ on that see-saw I’m afraid.

It’s time to drop the whole ‘work-life balance’ catch phrase and talk more around flexibility, integration and agility. The flexibility and agility to spend time at work, to spend time working at home, to spend time pursuing personal development, and to spend time integrating the other, many multi-faceted elements of our lives.

Do you believe in ‘work-life balance’?

About Kate Christie

Kate Christie is a time management specialist, best selling author, global speaker and the founder and CEO of Time Stylers. For more information about Kate go to

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