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David Lee King: Work/Life balance, finding time, and priorities

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I hate to break it to you – having a work/life balance is a bit of a myth. It might have worked 80 years ago when the only real connection you had to work after the work day was done was through your home telephone. But no more.

Image: David Lee KingDavid Lee King

David Lee King is the Digital Services Director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, where he plans, implements, and experiments with emerging technology trends.

He speaks internationally about emerging trends, website management, digital experience, and social media, and has been published in many library-related journals. David is a Library Journal Mover and Shaker.

His newest book is Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections.

David blogs at

Read David's other articles…

In today's world, you have easy access to smartphones, tablets, laptops, emails, text messages, and social media accounts that pretty much assure you are always connected. To friends, to family, and yes – to work.

And most likely, I'd guess that you are one BUSY person! You might not slow down when you “go home for the day.” That's certainly true of me. I have a normal job, a part time consulting/speaking/writing business, and a couple of leadership positions in local organizations around town. So yeah - my work/life balance is a bit off-kilter. For example, I'm writing this article at 8:30pm at the kitchen table.

Image: Work/Life balance, finding time, and priorities

How do I deal with having a work/life balance? That's easy. I gave it up. One day I realized a simple truth: to me, it's all work, and it's all life! Work and life never stop - I'm always a librarian, always a dad. I always have stuff to do at work, and stuff to do when I get home.

So, instead of stressing out over trying to balance my work life and home life, I try to focus on my priorities. Instead of having two (or more) lists of priorities, I have one list.

And then, I make sure that I make time for those priorities.

Thankfully, today's techie tools can help!

You can use modern technology tools to:

  1. Schedule priorities and activities. You probably do this at work. Maybe you need to schedule home or hobby priorities too, to make sure you have time to do them. Yes, that might mean putting "family time" on your calendar. That's ok, because your goal is to focus on priorities.

  2. Set exercise and sleep reminders. Exercise apps can send reminder notifications. You can use a Fitbit health monitor bracelet to track sleep patterns. Staying healthy is a good thing, and should probably be a priority (says David, who needs to start exercising again).
  3. Use a To-Do list. I use Todoist for personal and work tasks, and use Basecamp at work for project management.

Other ways to keep your sanity in today's fast-paced world:

  1. Use the "Do Not Disturb" setting on your smartphone. I have mine set from 11pm to 5:30am, so I don't receive any notifications. That's a good thing, since I use my phone as my alarm clock!

  2. Adjust app notification settings. I don't have all those email notifications turned on. Instead, I fetch emails when I have time. You can also adjust settings to social media apps.
  3. Turn off the Internet! Some wifi routers have a "shut down/turn off access" setting, similar to my phone's Do Not Disturb setting. Sometimes, no Web access is a good thing.

Stop compartmentalizing your life into work/non-work/other work priorities, and all those "things you really like to do but never have time for" activities. Instead, figure out a manageable list of priorities, and then tackle those. You'll be happier, probably more productive, and will probably be able to do some of those "things you really like to do but never have time for" activities.

Not a bad deal!