Recently, I was standing in the fitting room of my favorite store weighing the merits of the jeans with Ab-solution Booty Lift against the ones with Curve Equality. Actually, can we pause this story for a moment and agree that neither of those are real things? I was leaning towards the denim with Booty Lift when my phone gave that instantly recognizable chime that means I had received a priority email.
“Don’t even think about looking at that. It’s your day off.” My friend and shopping buddy wasn’t on board with responding to clients during our quest for new summer wardrobes. I did it anyway while attempting to be quick and pretending to try on the jeans again. Sometimes working while you are supposed to be relaxing is a dirty little secret, like the cupcake you sneak when you are dieting or the tabloids you pretend not to read while standing in line at the grocery store.
We are bombarded with messages about the importance of work-life balance. According to scholarly articles, blog posts, experts and loved ones, there should be prioritization between career and lifestyle, with distinct times for each.
Early in my career I was advised, “work is what you do so that you can afford your real life.” That sounded terrible and the words stuck with me as something I never wanted for myself.
For many writers, there is no magic alarm that goes off at 5:00 PM signaling the end of the workday. Vacation days live in the same realm as the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot and Booty Lift jeans. A lot of people believe in them, but I’ve never seen any evidence.
For me, and many other writers, the lines between work and pleasure are blurred. I love it that way. Freelance content writing is what pays the bills, but it is also something I love.
I have shoved work-life balance aside in favor of work-life integration. By allowing work, fun and family time to whirl themselves into one big smoothie I am happier and better at all of it.
The key to making work-life integration work is to surround yourself with other people who embrace the philosophy. I am lucky to have a husband that not only understands it but also employs it himself. Our idea of a vacation is sitting on a beach while he prepares presentation slides and I pitch article ideas. It’s perfection except for the glare on the laptop screen.
Of course, there are those that feel sorry or worried for me. My friend thought it was sad that I needed to check my email while trying on clothes. Instead, I thought it was awesome that I was able to go shopping on a Tuesday morning while also communicating with my clients.
For me, work-life integration means that I can do the things that need to be done whenever they arise, and I can have fun when others are feeling trapped in their cubicles. I never need to feel guilty about focusing on one thing when I should be doing another. It all blends together into one productive, happy life. I’ve taken work-life integration off my list of dirty little secrets, but I’ll still pretend not to read the tabloids as I pile my kale on the belt at the grocery store.
Responding to that email in the middle of my shopping trip netted me a new client and a large project. It was enough to convince me to buy both pairs of jeans. As it turns out, both Ab-solution Booty Lift and Curve Equality are real, or at least flattering. So maybe there’s still hope for vacation days. But I’m not waiting around to find out.
Writer Bio: Michelle S is a full-time freelance writer who integrates her work with hobbies such a sailing and paddle boarding. She is always on a quest for the perfect pair of jeans, which she considers research for her fashion writing.