Work-life balance. What does it mean to you? Give and take, push and pull, sacrifice. How about work-life integration? Combine, compliment, coordinate. Maybe we’ve been striving for the wrong thing.
Just the other day, someone I work with commented on my appearance in the following way: “You look very ‘city’ today!” To provide some context, I am currently working at an outdoorsy over night summer camp where everyone looks just a little bit disheveled almost all of the time. Dirty clothes, sweat pants, hoodies, old t-shirts, greasy hair – it’s a busy little world over here and staff don’t always have a ton of time to take care of themselves. The daily grind here at camp can wear you down, and sometimes it shows.
To provide some more context, I was wearing a tank top tucked into my belted khaki Columbia shorts and a jean jacket. And I had just showered. Whoa! I felt great – fresh and put together – but by no means would I consider this outfit my first pick for a day out in ‘the city’. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been known to do this thing where I replay conversations in my mind, and sometimes repeat them out loud. That’s when it came to me. I wasn’t looking ‘city’, I was sporting the work-life integration look! My appearance was worth commenting on not because I looked particularly trendy, but because I had had time that morning to get a workout in on the beautiful dock outside my cabin, shower, and put on clean clothes! I looked like I cared about myself, and I stood out because of it.
This all happened not one day after a new staff member arrived to help out in our very busy kitchen. Planning for special dietary requirements, feeding 200 campers and staff three times a day plus daily kitchen upkeep was wearing me a little thin, and the extra set of hands took a huge weight off of my shoulders almost immediately. Having the resources available to integrate your life commitments with your work commitments can make a huge difference in your quality of life, and when the boundaries between life and work become blurred, achieving this integration becomes that much more important.
I am a firm believer that your work shouldn’t take away from your life, and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice one for the other. It’s not necessary to push off your life commitments due to the pull you may feel to put in the extra hours at work. It’s a choice. But it’s also an exercise in goal setting, prioritizing, planning, and organizing. Work-life integration is all about finding a complementary balance between all of the aspects of your life that are important to you. There are always going to be those people who vow that they either live to work or work to live, but there’s also another camp that I think should be more greatly inhabited.
Although it helps when your life’s work and your life’s passions overlap, this isn’t the only way to achieve work-life integration. Drawing the line and determining your limits when it comes to giving up personal time to commit to your work is a good place to start. You might stand out from the crowd by setting limits and taking time for your yourself and your well being, but you’re so worth it! It’s become the new norm to answer emails via mobile phone over the weekend or on weeknights when you really should be doing you! I myself am guilty of this, I admit. But aside from sun tanning on the docks, evening kayak adventures on the glassy lake, starry nights, and fresh air, embracing a more ‘disconnected’ life at camp is one of my favourite perks of the job! It’s little things like this that help me integrate my life and my work, where I’m at, right now. Considering things like the time of day you’re most productive, the length of time you can focus on one task, what type of breaks energize and refocus you, and what type of breaks relax you after a stressful situation will result in more productive periods of work, more rewarding breaks, more time for the things in your life that you have deemed to be important, and a more balanced you!
Speaking of weekends, if you’ve decided that this one is a good time to start focusing more on the whole work-life integration ideal, you might just be in need of a warm, comforting, nourishing meal to convince you of the sweet goodness in life that you have been missing out on! Banana pancakes, anyone?
Am I the only one who can’t make banana pancakes without humming the Jack Johnson song? Banana pancakes, Jack Johnson, weekend mornings – together these sound like the perfect way to relax, unwind, reflect, and recharge. These banana protein pancakes are super satisfying just like my Stick to Your Ribs Multigrain Pancakes. Mildly sweetened with banana and a warm kick of cinnamon, these pancakes are worthy of place on your Sunday brunch table. So set aside some real weekend time, catch up over a meal with someone important, do that thing you’ve been wanting to for a while, and stop sacrificing.
- 1 ripe banana
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. hemp seeds
- 1 tsp. ground flax
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Preheat lightly oiled skillet on medium-high heat.
- Place all ingredients in a blender and puree just until smooth.
- Spoon batter onto hot skillet and wait until bubbles start to break the surface of the pancake before flipping.
- Serve with maple syrup, fresh fruit, and some yogurt for a completely satisfying, delicious, and nutritious breakfast!