Unlocking the Secrets of Work-Life Balance: Tips from Renowned Authors
Raise your hand if you were influenced by the likes of Miranda Priestly. 🙋🏻♀️
Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since the hustle culture of yore. So long, glorification of overwork and burnout—we’ve traded you in for sustainable rhythms of work. These days, companies are now heralded for creating healthy work environments. A welcome shift in the stratosphere.
Still, the work isn’t over for creating work/life balances that work for everyone.
And so we are gathered here today to discuss the ever-elusive utopia of finding the perfect work/life balance. Does that balance even exist? Is it just a wild goose chase?
We thought we’d explore this question by tapping the experts who have poured hundreds of hours into research in this territory. And so we’ve curated these findings below: seven notes on prioritizing the stuff of both professional work and personal life.
Before we begin, it's also worth noting that work/life balance means different things to different people. For some, it's about being able to leave the office at a reasonable hour and spend time with family and friends. For others, it's about having the freedom to travel or pursue hobbies outside of work. And for some, it's simply about not feeling guilty for taking a mental health day when they need it.
So, while the current state of work/life balance is still a work in progress, we're grateful for the ways people are making good noise about this conversation. We will now cede the floor to these experts. Take it away, authors!
Ditch productivity, and dive into wonder (from Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks)
"Productivity is a trap. Becoming more efficient just makes you more rushed, and trying to clear the decks simply makes them fill up again faster."
WHO CAN RELATE. Okay there's more.
"The world is bursting with wonder, and yet it’s the rare productivity guru who seems to have considered the possibility that the ultimate point of all our frenetic doing might be to experience more of that wonder."
Embrace your inner creative (from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic)
Here’s a hill we’re willing to die on: everyone is creative—including you. Yes, you! Whether you’re an account executive, a content creator, a marketing manager, a business analyst—there is a wellspring of creativity within you.
Liz Gilbert says it best: "When I refer to 'creative living,' I'm speaking more broadly,” she says. “I'm talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear."
If that prompts anxiousness within you, Gilbert’s got a word for you, too: "Fear is always triggered by creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome."
Examine your stress cycle (from Emily Nagasaki and Amelia Nagasaki’s Burnout)
We can’t talk about work and burnout without talking about the seminal book Burnout by Emily Nagowski and Amelia Nagowski:
“The good news is that stress is not the problem. The problem is that the strategies that deal with stressors have almost no relationship to the strategies that deal with the physiological reactions our bodies have to those stressors. To be ‘well’ is not to live in a state of perpetual safety and calm, but to move fluidly from a state of adversity, risk, adventure, or excitement, back to safety and calm, and out again. Stress is not bad for you; being stuck is bad for you.”
The stress response is a natural and necessary physiological response to challenging situations, but when we are exposed to chronic stressors without adequate recovery, our bodies can become stuck in a state of hyper-arousal, leading to burnout. So get out there and resolve the stress response! Walk around the block! Run some laps! Throw some paint on a canvas!
Five ingredients for your day (from Chanel Dokun’s Life Starts Now)
“Stop thinking of your day as a productivity vortex and start thinking about what you can create from five simple ingredients. Silence. Solitude. Generosity. Gratitude. Play.”
For Chanel Dokun, these postures shifted her from a life that felt like endless striving—to one that felt marked by ease and thriving.
What excites us about this list is that it’s far from over. It’s an incomplete blueprint towards a life of creative work, rest, and play. It’s a blueprint that requires all of us.
With that we ask you: what are your rules for creating sustainable rhythms of rest and work in your own life? When do you feel most creative, energized? What can you glean from those around you?
We’re rooting for you. Cheers to the process. 🥂