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A Simple Formula for Work-Life Balance

If you read enough self-development books, blog posts, articles, and the like, then you’ll start to notice a funny pattern. All things are possible and nothing is possible.

  • “Positive Thinking Is Everything!” and “Action Is Everything!”
  • “Give Away All Your Work for Free!” and “Double Your Prices, Baby!”
  • And my personal favorites, “Work-Life Balance Is a Myth!” and “You Too Can Achieve Work-Life Balance!”

Ugh, it’s enough to make your head spin. What are you supposed to believe?

Well, I’m a firm believer in work-life balance—heck, it’s in my elevator pitch! So when I read those anti-work-life balance articles, I notice something about the authors.

They claim work-life balance impossible, but they’re not even really trying.

They say things like your health is going to take more of your time, or your day job will take more of your time, or your kids will take more of your time, or your business will take more of your time.

Even I agree with this to an extent, but if you want work-life balance you need to track your time and be honest about where your minutes go.

Here’s a simple formula to help you get work-life balance: equal work time + me time + sleep = a balanced day.

In a recent call for my Life Editing for Beginners group, we were talking about how to divide up your day so that you’re giving equal time to the things that drain you and the things that build you up.

It comes down to this:

  • 8 hours for work (or things that deplete your energy)
  • 8 hours for play (or things that increase your energy)
  • 8 hours of sleep (to recharge yourself)

See how perfectly that works out!

And when you’re choosing “play” activities, pick things that add value to your life like reading, talking with loved ones, doing a hobby, etc.  Avoid numbing activities that push down your emotions and make you feel like a zombie.

I know what you’re thinking. “Come on, Sage! Really? How about I supposed to have 8 hours of me time when I have a long commute, my kids need attention, and I just want to zone out watching Netflix for hours.”

As your coach, I gotta ask you the hard questions. Do you want work-life balance or do you just want to complain about how difficult it is?

Instead of making excuses, take control of your schedule and balance out the highs and lows. You can do this!

If you work at a desk for hours, then use your commute to listen to a lovely audiobook. If you write work emails all day, then spend some time journaling at night. If you have to sit through boring meetings, then make time for conversation with your family.

Life Editors are pros at mastering work-life balance.

  • You delete a little of the bad to make room for more of the good.
  • You stay thankful for what you have so you can attract more of what you want.
  • You plan time for your work so you’ll have time for your play.

How do you maintain work-life balance?

In the comments below, share your tips for giving equal time to all the parts of your life.

This post focuses on Step 3 of the Life Editing Process, Add Good Habits and Routines. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.

14 Comments

  1. Kerryn Hewson on July 18, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    I’ve always thought that work-life balance was a misnomer because balance implies equal time to all the things we want to have in our lives. BUT this 8-8-8 formula when you think of it as activities that drain you, activities that fill you up, and sleep (cos we all lurve sleep!) puts a totally different spin on that. So interesting!



    • Sage Grayson on July 19, 2015 at 9:03 am

      I love my sleep too, and it’s the one thing I never cut back on.



  2. Librada on July 15, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Hi Sage, I have to admit that I am not a fan of the phrase work-life balance. Mostly because others (including me until I learned the hard way) think that it means keeping all of the balls/responsibilities we are juggling up in the air. I now focus on prioritizing. And, I do like your formula because it focuses on making sure that you are honoring yourself/play, your commitments/work and getting rest/sleep on a daily basis. Thanks for sharing it and breaking it down in a good way to explain to others.



    • Sage Grayson on July 18, 2015 at 1:15 pm

      I know, the term “work-life balance” can sometimes seem like half-assed multitasking where nothing really gets your full attention. But I like to think of it as making sure you’re filling your cup so as to avoid burnout later.



  3. Lucy on July 15, 2015 at 7:44 am

    I love this formula! It’s just challenging knowing how to fit it in to my life…. I’ll have to ponder that. My trouble is that as a work at home mum with young children on variable schedules my time is often. Dry mixed up. So, I attend to social media over meals and listen to podcasts while doing the ironing. I’m often exhausted even though I don’t ever spend more than 5 hours in a day ‘working”…. And I’m ashamed to say I look forward to both my kids going to school so my time is more under my own control….



    • Sage Grayson on July 18, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      I agree, sometimes our work takes more energy in less time than our play can replenish it.



  4. Susan on July 14, 2015 at 9:45 am

    The part that I loved the most in this post was you being really honest and telling us to stop complaining
    “As your coach, I gotta ask you the hard questions. Do you want work-life balance or do you just want to complain about how difficult it is?”
    (I know you know this part but it was for them that like to over read things as honest)
    I love my time spent in my car driving from one school to the next, the amount of books that have been read to me by my Kindle is so cool. I get loads of time to free my mind and fill it up with something positive.
    My saying is always (mostly to hubby):
    You are in control of you planner. If you add too much stuff in then don’t come complaining to me that life is full of work and no play.

    Love reading your post Sage



    • Sage Grayson on July 18, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      Haha, yes! We are in control of our planners and we’re to blame if we fill it with too much stuff. 🙂



  5. Herdis Pala on July 14, 2015 at 4:23 am

    Thanks for a great article Sage. I like your formula. I´m also a big advocate for people treating their sleep better or that people prioritize their sleep more.
    On the other hand I like to talk about work-life integration because in reality you sometimes have to attend to your “life” during your work (personal phone-calls, PTA-meetings, run errands…) and then you sometimes have to attend to some work-related issues when you are home (phone-calls, some e-mails…) so it is about a mutual flexibility or integration that works well for both parties.



    • Sage Grayson on July 18, 2015 at 1:19 pm

      Like that–work-life integration! You’re right, sometimes the lines get blurry and work tasks overlap with life tasks. Good point!



  6. Erika on July 13, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    I love the 8-8-8 thing! Sounds like the best balance one could have. Since I already do that during the week, I’m going to try it out on the weekend, too. That would make for more productive weekends, right?



    • Sage Grayson on July 18, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      Yes! I try to keep roughly the same schedule on the weekends too. Then I’m not so sleep-deprived or grumpy on Monday mornings.



  7. Gisele Grenier on July 13, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Hi Sage, another great article!!!

    I whole heartily, 100% believe in the work – life balance. On my artsy website, I call it work+creativity+life = balance. We all work in some way to sustain ourselves, we all must be creative in some way as a form of expression and we all must live in order to be balanced. I don’t know if that makes any sense.

    for the 8-8-8 rule, 8 hours sleep – since being diagnosed with severe sleep apnea and being placed on CPAP, I only need 6 – 6.5 hours of sleep (yeah!) anything extra is an extra long shower and pampering.

    8 hours for work – I work from home so I start work excited and 90% of the time finish work fullfilled. The other 10% is client aggravation which usually passes within an hour.

    Everything left over is the fun stuff weather it’s creative, reading, cooking, playing with Mia or attempting golf again.

    I think we really need some type of 8-8-8 balance or we’ll burn out, be bored to death or get ourselves into trouble. We can’t be all about work, we can’t be all play and we surely can’t sleep 24 hours a day (normally).



    • Sage Grayson on July 18, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      Some days I wish I could sleep for 24 hours, haha! 🙂