Making a success of life and work.

What is work life balance?

Work life balance is a funny old concept. It gives the impression of two competing aspects to our lives, two aspects that can't naturally work hand in hand, that are fighting against each other, and we have to somehow appease them, to get them balanced out like a set of kitchen scales.

But to what end? What happens when the scales are balanced, ultimate success and happiness? What happens if they are tipped one way or the other - failure?

Back in 2009 David Seders wrote an article in The New Yorker and introduced the Four Burners Theory. I think it's a better way to wrap your head around work life balance.

The theory goes like this:

Imagine your life as a four burner stove, each burner symbolising a quadrant of your life

1. Family
2. Friends
3. Health
4. Work

And to be successful you have to turn off one burner.

And to be really successful you have to turn off two burners.

Which would you choose? Would you want to turn off any? Maybe you can turn them down just a little, work with the constraints.

It's a nice way to visualise if one quadrant of your life is suffering at the expense of the other quadrants. Sometimes the quadrant suffering is something you're content with, other times you might want to redress the balance, turn down one burner and switch the other back up.

For me I don't want to turn off any particular burner, but I can definitely think of times where my focus on work and family have been to the detriment of my health (not doing any exercise, putting on weight), and times where work has suffered through a focus on family and health.

It also helps visualise what's important to us, and how that importance shifts over time, through the seasons, and as we age.

If you think you've got the balance wrong at the moment, and you're looking for inspiration and some thought provoking ideas then we'd suggest starting with these articles.

Is it rest you need?

I think most of us get drawn into work to the detriment of our outside interests, family and health. Sometimes we just need a short break to get the work/ life scales back in balance, or find a way to switch off and recharge. If that's you we'd recommend these articles:

Do you actually switch off on holiday?

Some of us don't know how to forget work when we're on holiday. We've all seen someone stood apart from their family to take a work call, someone checking their emails on the beach. Is it you having a sneaky check on Slack or MS Teams before dinner?

You don’t need to take your phone on holiday with you
The right to disconnect - ending unpaid electronic work
How to go on holiday at home

Do you want to get more from your holidays?

Who doesn't want to get more from their holidays?

What's the ideal length of a holiday?
Is it better to take a relaxed or adventurous holiday?
"It felt like I was only gone for a day!" - How to stop your holidays from whizzing by
Which is better: one long holiday, or lots of short ones?

Do you want to reduce the strain of work?

If your job is all encompassing, full gas, the kind that plays on your mind 24/7, consider some some tweaks to how you operate at work itself.

How to enjoy work
How to organise your ideal working day
Alternatives to the fixed office: the best places to work from
How to boost your confidence at work

Top ten books on learning and career development
How to develop your career in your spare time
Top ten books on rest