Although practical steps can be helpful, they aren’t always the answer to maintaining a balanced life while studying for the MFT exam. For example, if you are spending too little time with family and too much time at work, a simple solution could be to reduce hours spent at work. Effectively resolving work-life conflict, however, involves getting to the root of the problem.
Yael Schonbrun, PhD, explores the work-life conflict in her Psychology Today article “How Can We Fix the Conflict Between Work and Family.” Her solution is not as simple as a decreasing time at work. “Until you can make an accurate diagnosis, there is no way to implement an effective repair.”
The solution is internal. Schonbrun goes on to explain:
It is wonderfully human to simultaneously long to succeed in the public sphere and engage deeply in relationships with those we love. And no amount of maternity leave, supportive partnerships, or flex-time can eliminate the conflict that exists in embodying these dual and sometimes dueling drives.
The solution is to accept this concept at an internal level and discover what works best for you.
To help you explore what is internally throwing of your work-life balance, Juliet Funt, founder of White Space at Work says that a drive towards productivity often gets in the way of what is called “white space.” White space is the time in your day where creativity happens. It’s the time left over after work, school, and taking care of kids. Funt says there are four thieves that steal white space and they are disguised as ways we achieve productivity.
The four thieves are: Drive, Excellence, Information, Activity. Each one of these is a necessary tool for success. So, when do they begin stealing from us?
Funt explains that they become thieves of your personal life when they show up in what you might call an obsessive form. For example, drive turns into hyperdrive, excellence turns into perfectionism, information turns into information overload, and activity turns into frenzy. These thieves “can lure us into a pace and pressure that reduce our overall effectiveness.” Not only, therefore, do the four thieves steal from your personal life, but they steal from your overall productivity, too.
Because each of the thieves is necessary for success, how do you let them serve you in achieving your goal? Funt says you should begin by noticing when they start stealing from you. Do you relate to hyperdrive, perfectionism, information overload, or frenzy? When you notice how the thieves show up, you can begin to reclaim white space and create work-life balance.
Check out her brief explanation on the four thieves below!