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Time to Redefine “Work-Life Balance”: Tips on Integrating Your Work with Your Life

Photo by Sugar Plum Creative

Let’s talk about the term “work-life balance.” This popular phrase originated about 40 years ago and came with great intentions: to prioritize life outside of work. And it has brought about some meaningful questions, such as…

Are we living to work? Or working to live?

While we greatly appreciate this term, we also believe that in our modern society the term “work-life balance” has some negative connotations. In a previous blog post where we talked about work life integration we wrote,

“Thinking about work-life balance congers up images of scales that tip one direction when out of balance. This leaves us feeling guilty when the scales are out of balance.”

As we all know, it really doesn’t take much for scales to tip out of balance!

Using the term “balance” and the working models that follow “work-life balance” enforce the separation and compartmentalization between work and life. “Critics of the term say that it creates an artificial separation between work and life as if work were not a part of life. Others say it incorrectly implies a zero-sum equation in which life loses out while you’re working and vice versa.”

This can lead to our days feeling rigid and causes us to feel like we have to squeeze the “life” part into a very small amount of time.

Plus, with technology making it so that we hear a “ding” every time we get a work email, many have started to feel like work is creeping very much into life! So isn’t it time for it to be acceptable that life “creeps” into work time as well? That is what work-life integration is all about.

At Haven Collective, we believe work-life integration is an inclusive and holistic structure that honors the whole self in working situations.

So, what does work-life integration even look like?

Rather than setting up hard boundaries between work and life, it encourages flexibility and “gentle pivots” between work activities and life activities throughout the day. Rather than working for 8 hours, sleeping for 8 hours, and fitting everything else in the other 8 hours, it is about going through the day and prioritizing tasks based on one’s lifestyle and preferences.

For a working parent, work-life integration might look like this:

  • Breakfast with the family in the morning before dropping the kids off at school
  • Work from 9 am-noon (need to take a call from the doctor, do it!)
  • Lunch and going to the gym (answer a work call while heading into the gym, sure!)
  • Work meetings in the afternoon (answer a text from your mom, yep!)
  • Pick up the kids from school followed by dinner (send some emails while waiting, sure!)
  • Respond to emails before bed (then close it up an hour before bedtime)

For someone living without children, work-life integration might look like this:

  • Wake up with a morning ritual
  • Start working at 8 am
  • Lunch and shopping with friends in the afternoon
  • Work through the late afternoon until dinner
  • Plan and prep the next days work
  • Settle in for the evening

It’s all about prioritizing things based on what you and your family want and need.

But here is the kicker! No matter what we call how we structure our days, it’s all about execution, right?!

“We all want our lives to be richly filled with meaningful work and relationships. Work-life integration, just like work-life balance, is a helpful framework to help us do this, but the secret to prioritizing what we value most is in the execution. None of us will do this perfectly, but with practice, we can get a little closer to trying to have it all.” Source.

So let’s take a look at some ways that you can practice integrating your work with your life!

What are key factors to work-life integration?

  1. Flexibility is Key!

Have you ever been told, “Leave your personal life at the door!” Man, we have heard it too many times in our life. The term work-life balance might sometimes make it feel like that is what you are supposed to do. However, as a society, we are progressing and many professionals are finding that that “leave it at the door” mentality is outdated and not possible.

For instance, if life things come up while working, such as a call from the doctor, or vet, or from your kid’s nurse while at work, most working adults are going to want the freedom to be able to take that call.

Flexibility to take care of their responsibilities, beyond just their work responsibilities, is key for so many working professionals, whether you’re a parent or not.

Especially during the past year, many hybrid models have been implemented that encourage work-life integration and have helped increase flexibility among their employees.

In a previous blog, we mentioned a new model many companies are using called “virtual first.” In this model, the company offers core blocks of time for colleagues to work together, have meetings, and embrace their work community. But the rest of the time is “flextime,” where staff can work remotely on independent work in a setting that works best for them and their families’ needs.

“Flexible work hours are the freedom to have a more fulfilling daily life and a healthy, integrated personal identity.” – Source

2. Schedule things out

Rather than only creating a work schedule or a work to-do list, make sure to also schedule and prioritize other activities at times that make sense for you!

3. Coordinate with partners and family

Remember, practicing work-life integration is supposed to make things easier, not harder. So make sure to communicate about the needs of each family member when making a schedule

4. Make sure everyone is on board

Whether you are a business owner, self-employed, or an employee, all team members need to be on board with this structure or at least need to come to an understanding.

If working during non-traditional work hours becomes common and you rely on the work and correspondence of others, then communication about expectations should be made clear to everyone involved.

5. Unplug from Work

While integrating is a great way to move through the days of our lives, make sure to maintain some boundaries and unplug from all work activities on a regular basis.

“We can split hairs over the difference between balance and integration, but the truth is that people need a break periodically no matter which approach you argue for. There are some times when they need to give their brain and body a rest from work, not just for them, but also for you.” – Source

How does Haven Collective encourage Work Life Integration?

At Haven Collective, we focus on people first and see everyone as a unique individual. No matter what time of working structure you prefer, we aim to help support you, your business, and your life.

“Being able to be present in every moment is what I strive for.” – Danielle, Co-Owner of Haven Collective.

Here are some ways that Haven Collective strives to help people be present in their work and personal lives:

  • We encourage community and tell people they can be their whole selves at our office. We also provide support services, such as online meditations, yoga, and events focusing on mental health. Plus, our Lounge and Kitchenette areas encourage conversations between members.
  • Productivity looks different for everyone, so whether you need complete silence or a hustle ‘n’ bustle environment to focus, we have different rooms and floors that provide different atmospheres.
  • Quiet and privacy, especially for working parents, is often hard to come by at home. We offer private spaces throughout so you can have some time to yourself, such as offices, conference rooms, and phone booths.

Whether you need balance, integration, or something in between, check out how Haven Collective can support YOU!

Written by April Warner

Sources: Business News Daily,, Think Marketing, Time, Entrepreneur, When I Work

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