Written by Jen Sanders

In our fast-paced, hyperconnected world, we often hear about the importance of achieving a healthy work-life balance. Traditionally, that meant turning off work at home and focusing on work at work. Today, attempting to compartmentalize them may not be as practical or beneficial as we think.

The Switch Fallacy

The idea that we can flip a switch and enter life mode when we leave the office is becoming increasingly unrealistic. The idea that we can leave our personal lives while working is just as idealistic. Thoughts about projects, deadlines, parenting, family illness, and finances come to mind at all times of the day and week. We don’t have a work-life toggle switch. Rather than chasing an elusive separation, consider these tips.

Accept the idea of work-life integration. Acknowledge that work and life are interconnected and work to find ways to navigate this mindfully and with purpose. By doing so, we can achieve a sense of well-being that goes beyond traditional boundaries and allows us to lead more balanced and satisfying lives.

Create transparency when appropriate and reasonable. People in our lives will only understand the challenges we are facing if we tell them. Share challenges or big moments with an appropriate intimacy level and disclosure. This will foster trust, strengthen relationships, and help others navigate their own work-life integrations.

Say yes, but on your terms. Overcommitting in our personal and work lives is increasingly common and can be a source of stress, anxiety, and unhappiness. Instead of chairing every committee, try volunteering as an individual contributor, contributing financially, or helping find another chairperson. Take a call while taking a walk outside. Set mutually acceptable responsiveness and communication standards to reduce the barrage of late-night and weekend messages.

Give yourself permission to say no. Giving ourselves permission to say no is an important aspect of setting boundaries and caring for our well-being. Recognizing our needs, limits, and priorities and enforcing those is not selfish; rather, it is often very others’ focused. When we overcommit in any aspect of our lives, we can’t bring ourselves to support those around us best.

What purposeful steps can you take to improve your work-life integration this week?

Founded in 2004, Lead Star is the company behind New York Times best-sellers SPARKLeading from the Front, and Bet on You. Lead Star supports professionals to reach new levels of success through its innovative coaching programs.