We spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to get more things done. At least, I do.
I tell myself that if I can get what has to be done taken care of more quickly, I’ll have more time to do what I want. That makes perfectly good sense, in theory.
Except that what I really mean is that I have to get work done before I can spend time with my kids and husband. I have to get emails answered before I can go to the gym. I have to turn in all of my projects before I can spend some time in prayer.
Work-life balance often means finding ways to fit life in around the work.
Something about that seems off to me.
I was thinking about this earlier this week and remembered a time when my husband was struggling with a “work-life balance”. The kids and I had become the life that got squeezed into the left over space around work.
His job was a necessity.
I was an “if you have room” luxury.
It sounds nice to describe myself as a luxury, but it feels crappy to not be a necessity in your husband’s life. I don’t mean to point the finger at my husband because a) he’s worked really hard to change his behaviors to match his priorities and b) he’s certainly not the only one (in this family) to fall into that trap in the first place. I, too, have put husband, kids, health, and a myriad of other priorities in line behind work.
What if we made work less important?
Instead of focusing on all the ways we can get more done, what if we focused on training ourselves to be OK with not getting everything done? What if we made “getting more done at work” secondary to our families?
There is an old demonstration that’s often done by productivity and self-help speakers. A participant is presented with 4 jars of equal size: an empty one, a jar 3/4 full of large rocks, a jar 3/4 full of pebbles, and a jar 3/4 full of sand. The participant is asked to get all the contents from all the jars into the one empty jar.
How do they do it?
They put the big rocks in first. Next they put in the pebbles, which naturally fill in the space around the big rocks. Finally, they pour in the sand to fill the remaining spaces. The lesson is that the best way to “get it all done” is to put the big rocks - the most important things - into your schedule first, and then fill in the extra time with the less important things.
I wonder what the consequences would be if we made our family and other personal priorities the big rocks. I wonder if we would find that our employers actually needed much less from us than what we have been giving. I wonder if we’d see a difference in our personal relationships if we put our productivity efforts there.
I wonder if this is something I could actually do.