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‘Work–life balance’ is a phrase often used but seldom defined. In the context of a COVID-19 pandemic, it may seem a twee concept as healthcare workers do what is needed to deal with exceptional circumstances. However, once the pandemic is over, many will be re-evaluating their life choices. This article aims to clarify what we mean by work–life balance and, within the confines of a busy job in cardiology, suggests strategies on how best to maximise it.
When work is life
Work–life balance is the relative allocation of time to professional activity compared with non-professional activity. ‘Good’ work–life balance usually means prioritisation of the latter. It is frequently a synonym for giving time to childcare or domestic tasks.1 ‘Poor’ work–life balance usually connotes a heavy emphasis on the importance of, and time allocated to, professional activities compared with non-professional ones.
These value-laden descriptors—‘good’ and ‘poor’—are arbitrary: many people find happiness in the dedication of their life to their profession. Others endorse an equality or predominance of non-professional activities. It is as important to not denigrate the choice of work over life, as it is to protect the choice of life over work.
When work stops life
When choice of a work–life balance is removed, stress and conflict ensue. Removal of choice can be subtle or implicit, such as when doctors perceive cardiology career progression …