The work-life balance. It’s something we all talk about these days, and are all seemingly on a constant journey to discover that mysterious balance every talks about. But really, I’m not sure there is a clear definition for this – especially in 2015.
I firmly believe in having time you set aside specifically for your family/fun/personal life – and specifically to devote to work. But if I’m at home and get an email that needs to be responded to right away, I’m probably going to respond. Vice-versa, if my son’s daycare calls in the middle of something at work, you better believe it’s pretty likely I’m going to answer that call! Bottom line: I’m still a mom when I walk in to work every day, and I’m still an editor of a great magazine when I’m home at night. Both define who I am – and I want it that way!
I recently read an article in Fortune where the author called tossed out the word balance, favoring the phrase: “work/life mashup.”
Doesn’t the term “mashup” describe our lives so much better than balanced? There are layers of ourselves, and they all blend together and add value to create who we are: unique, wonderful mashups! Just be careful to not let any part of that mashup start to get too watered down by one ingredient – like work, or play. 
So here are five tips I’ve gathered from reading up on this subject that might help you find that perfect mashup:
  1. If it doesn’t add value to your life, cut it out! Setting boundaries is a tough one – but we’re all too busy to please everyone, do everything, make every social function, etc. Make priorities and stick to them. For example, one of my co-workers has never missed going to her child’s sporting events. Because that’s important to her, she’s adjusted other areas of her life – like perhaps responding to some work emails before breakfast to free up time in the afternoon – to make sure there’s room for what adds value.
  2. Be wary of negative people. While in the world of business we may not be able to just simply avoid them, try to find a way to not let them suck out the energy you could otherwise be investing in work or family.
  3. Be open about your needs and don't be afraid to ask for help. This goes for in and outside the office. Do you have an early appointment and need your spouse to run the kids to daycare? Ask! Likewise, do you need to be out of the office by 4:30 for a soccer game, communicate it! It never hurts to ask, right? Sure – not every job is that flexible, but I think the modern-day workplace is evolving, and schedules are becoming a bit more flexible as people work on their “mashups”… but more on that in a future blog post.
  4. Take time for yourself. Do you realize you are part of this mashup too?? As soon as the mashup gets out of balance, we sacrifice ourselves and start focusing on solely serving others and forgetting to take care of ourselves.
  5. Here’s my favorite, but also the one I struggle with most: schedule down time (or as some article stated, “private time”). Have you ever had a job where you felt like taking time off was frowned upon? Me too. It’s a bummer. But the truth is that having time off is vital to not only our personal well-being, but also our ability to be a good employee or leader, or both! Silence your phone, stow it on your nightstand, and walk away for several hours. Be free. Do something you enjoy. Learn to embrace the “off” button!
Ok – here’s a bonus tip: be flexible. No matter how hard you try to expertly perfect your mashup, things are going to change! 
So be ready to embrace that change, adjust the mix, and reevaluate your mashup regularly.