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The Answer to More Work-Life Balance Is Not More Time. It’s This.

The key isn’t how we divide our time between work and play.

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BY Laura Garnett - 08 May 2017

You need more than free time to feel truly balanced.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

If you're close to burnout, you're probably worried about how to achieve a better work-life balance. Although that impulse is understandable, I've seen firsthand that working less and relaxing more isn't the key to happiness that we think it is. In fact, we're missing a few very important things when we talk about work-life balance.

The key isn't how we divide our time between work and play. What we should be doing is focusing more on how we spend our time when we're doing those two things. When we start to think differently about how we work and live, we'll be better equipped to make changes that will enhance the quality of our lives.

Ready to have a new conversation about work-life balance? Here are three things we need to start considering:

1. We don't look at what's draining our energy at work

If you're only thinking about working less, you're probably not stopping to consider what exactly is draining your energy at work. You might think it's all the meetings or the too-tight deadlines, but what if it's something else? What if the problem is that you're in a job that doesn't work for you? If the root of your energy drain is something that significant, less time in the office isn't going to make a huge difference. You'll still be in the wrong role at least 40 hours a week.

2. We tend to focus on how to maximize our "life" hours instead of how to optimize our time at work

Yes, it's important to consider how we spend our out-of-office time. However, it's also equally important that we focus on how we can optimize our in-office time. What changes can you make to get ahead of your to-do list? Are there things you can do to go from being completely reactive in your role to being more proactive? Are there ways you can conserve wasted energy that you haven't stopped to consider? Think about it. The revelations might surprise you.

3. We'll have more energy to enjoy our lives if we can find work that energizes us

Instead of encouraging people to work less, we should help them identify the type of work that best serves who they are and how they work. In my work, for example, I help people identify their Zone of Genius. When people use their Genius to do work that aligns with their Purpose, they find they're more motivated and energized. This leads to having more energy when they're out of the office, thus feeling like they have a better quality of life than they did before.

Think about those three things and make changes based on what you discover. You'll find you're more energized at work and your life as a whole will instantly improve as a result.