When you hear the term “work-life balance,” what do you think of? When you read that phrase, does the picture it creates in your mind’s eye look something like this?
It seems whenever the notion of balance is discussed as a function of a healthy life, it is measured in the metrics of time: the blue drudgery of “Work” on one side of the scale, contrasted with the bright light of “Life” on the other. Work, left to its own devices, will steal all of the time that should belong to Life, and achieving “work-life balance” means taking time back from Work and returning it to Life. While contemporary discussions have moved beyond simple “time off” to more expansive notions of “flexibility,” the object of the discussion is still the same: better apportioning of time between two competing worlds — our Work and our Life.
This way of thinking is well-intentioned and has been beneficial. It is conventional to discuss, easy to understand and simple to remedy via a change in policies.
It is also wrong.