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Shannon Casas: Why millennials care about work-life balance
Shannon Casas
Shannon Casas

As you’re reading this, I’m likely sitting on a beach, or in a kayak or at a table outside eating something delicious.

Work-life balance is important to me. And this week isn’t going to include any of the former. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love my work. But I also know I need time away to put a little work into myself and my relationships.

I’m not sure if millennials invented the phrase work-life balance, but it’s certainly something often attributed to that generation.

We — yes, I am a millennial — struggle to balance the demands of work with the desire to also explore opportunities outside of work.

I don’t believe balancing those things is harder because millennials want more time to play. I think it’s harder because work life can more easily seep into every facet of life. And vice versa.

With a quick tap on a screen, I can check my email and get sucked in to a work conversation; meanwhile, the children at my feet ask for my attention. 

With that same quick tap, I can get sucked in to a group text session with my family; meanwhile a reporter waits for his breaking news article to be edited.

Technology brings convenience and complication.

Of course, this was all simpler when work-life balance essentially meant the man balanced work and the woman balanced life. Those days are gone for many reasons.

And while I wouldn’t trade it, that leaves me balancing children’s weekly appointments with also weekly work meetings.

There are numerous schools of thought on how best to balance work and life. Some say it’s OK to let the two intertwine, using the flexibility of a job to complete both work and life tasks. 

Others say to separate the two, leaving all the work behind when you come through the door of your home.

What may be more important is knowing how to set boundaries.

I’ve told my bosses in the past that I don’t check my email after hours. They know how to find me if they need me. 

I’ve also caught myself checking work email without even realizing what I was doing — then getting angry at work email, venting frustrations at my husband and sending off more emails to handle a situation that easily could have waited until the next day.

Work-life balance isn’t easily attained. But I’ve learned it’s often me and not the job that’s to blame when the scales are out of whack.

The scale has been tipped hard in the direction of work these past few months. For one week, it’s tipping all the way toward life.

So, while I’d love to hear your thoughts on work-life balance. Don’t expect me to email back until Jan. 14.

Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times. Her column publishes Sundays.