The Balancing Act

You’ve probably heard of her. That woman who does it all—She works thrice as hard as her male counterparts because just as much isn’t enough. Her house is spotless, her kids are always clean and happy, she keeps the romance alive, and she still makes time to paint in the evenings and lay on the beach on the weekend. They call her a Superwoman—because she is. Inspirational. Empowering. Fictional.

What do you think of when you hear the words WORK/LIFE BALANCE?

Maybe you see golden sand gently poured into the bowls of a bronze scale, moving the grains of time from one bowl to the other until they both sit perfectly centred—equal. Or maybe it’s crossing a raging river on a tightrope, tip too much on one side or the other and you plummet into freezing waters. Do you think of standing in front of a crowd, spinning a beach ball on the tip of your nose? 

Balance can mean a lot of things: Equality. Survival. Performance. These are extremes that are too often presented as norms. Work/Life Balance should be about acknowledging yourself as an individual with unique and complex thoughts, feelings, wants and needs. 

Work/Life balance may seem like just another way to move the goalposts of success even further away. Success. Failure. Winner. Loser. Labels—Useful to distinguish the soda from the rat killer, harmful and unfortunately influential when applied to human beings. Needing to feel good about ourselves is an extremely human need, and sometimes in the pursuit of esteem we seek out certain labels and try our hardest to avoid others. Superwoman. Boss Lady. Workaholic. Lazy. Overly Ambitious. Slacker. In this society, it’s all too common to allow productivity to determine your self-worth—but whoever you are, and whoever you want to be, a healthy work/life balance can be the difference between thrive and survive.

In the wise words of Cage the Elephant: 

I got bills to pay, I got mouths to feed, & ain’t nothing in this worlds for free.

But the importance of work goes beyond financial security, it can be a source of purpose, a facilitator of relationships and intellectual stimulation. Spending time with your loved ones or curling up in front of the TV may not help put food on the table, but it will help you avoid the mental and physical exhaustion of burnout. In addition to the detrimental effect on your health, burnout can reduce your engagement and efficiency with work, and rob you of your sense of achievement. 

Exactly how much work is too much though? Especially when the line between work and life starts to blur. Some people can satisfy most if not all their wants and needs through work—their team is their family, their job is their meaning. Others can satisfy themselves without a career, while many (if not most) people find themselves somewhere between the two. Therefore, instead of splitting your time evenly between “work” and “life,” focus on finding harmony within the many facets of your life. 

Work Life balance is essential, but one size does not fit all, so here are some questions to get you started, and some tips to keep you going. 


  1. How do you feel?

The full spectrum of human emotion is more complex than can be expressed through emoji. The goal isn’t to be happy all the time, but to be aware and engaged with your feelings. 

Have you been feeling stressed recently? If so, how are you reacting under that stress? Are you energised or are you exhausted? 

Have you been angry? Why? Has something been threatening, offending, or annoying you? 

When you can distinguish between those emotions that are a natural and healthy part of being alive, from those that signal a deeper issue—you can find a solution before it becomes a debilitating problem.          

  1. What do you need?

Of course there are the basic needs of survival—air in your lungs, food in your belly, a roof over your head. But what do you need in order to feel safe? Loved? Respected? Worthy? What do you need in order to feel human

  1. What do you want?

Have you been dying to check out that new restaurant? Got a daily craving for chocolate? Dreaming of starting a family? Are you itching to backpack around Europe?

The FOMO might set in as you scroll through Instagram and see everyone you’ve ever known achieve amazing (not to mention aesthetic) goals—breathtaking weddings, thrilling adventures, flashy cars. But beyond societal expectations and that capitalistic voice of MORE! MORE! MORE! What do you really want? What gets your blood pumping? What sets your soul on fire?

  1. What are your priorities?

Now that you’ve established your wants and your needs, you may think that all you have to do now is put in the effort to reach those goals. 

Well, I’ve got some bad news for you: Sometimes all the effort in the world won’t be enough—the economy, technology, unexpected global pandemics—sometimes the world just gets in the way and no amount of pushing will make it budge. 

So think about what you need, and think about what you want and then decide on your priorities. What are you willing to sacrifice? What compromises can be made? 

And if you put your energy into meeting your priorities, you might find enough left over to raze those obstacles to the ground.

  1. What support is available?

The importance and benefits of a healthy work/life balance is being recognised more and more from an organisational perspective. It’s a win-win situation, and as such your work-place may be willing to offer you support. 

Want more time with the kids? Maybe you could work from home some days. 

Need to get an afternoon workout in? Ask about taking a long lunch. 

Your workplace may not be willing or able to give you what you want—but if you don’t ask, the answer is always no. 

However, if your workplace is unwilling to even consider your needs, and you’re in a stable enough place to do so, you may consider if your time and energy are better served elsewhere. 


  1. Set Boundaries

Do you have important plans the night your boss asks you to stay late? 

Say No.

Is your best friend trying to drag you out the night before a big presentation?

Say No. 

Does a client repeatedly expect you to perform a job outside of your clearly stated work hours?

Say No. 

You can be an amazing friend and an excellent worker without being a pushover. What are the duties of your job? What expectations come attached to your relationships? Make your priorities clear, set your boundaries and stick to them. 

Do you want to do this? 

Do you need to do this? 

Answered no to both questions? 

Then, just say “No.” 

  1. Manage your Time

Productivity does not determine your self-worth. 

Productivity does not determine your self-worth.

Productivity does not determine your self-worth. 

But some things are just a waste of time. 

Did you take a day off to recharge, but spend it deep cleaning your guest room?  There’s nothing wrong with binge watching Grey’s Anatomy for the 20th time unless you come out of the experience feeling worse than you did going in. 

Ask yourself: Are you relaxing, or deteriorating? 

Calendars, Diaries, Apps—there seems to be an unending number of tools created solely to help you manage your time. Find one that works for you. 

  1. Keep Checking In

It’s okay to change your mind. The only constant in life is change—every experience good, bad, or forgettable influences the way you think, the way you feel, the decisions you make. It may be imperceptible at first, but one day you might find yourself standing in front of a mirror, and rediscovering yourself. 

The decisions you made in the past weren’t a mistake, your experience wasn’t a waste of time—they created you. But don’t live your life according to anybody else’s plan, even if the person who made those plans, used to be you

If you are a trail-blazing woman that has entered a non-traditional trade, we’d love to hear your thoughts about work/life balance – let us know about your experience in the comments section or drop us a line at

And if you are a woman about to enter a non-traditional trade, BUSY Sisters can provide government-funded mentoring support to ensure you thrive in your new career. Contact us today on  or find out more at



Health Direct 

Work Life Balance is a Cycle (HBR)