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Navigating Work-Life Balance – Beyond Time Management

Written by: Yana Carstens, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Yana Carstens

Do you feel overwhelmed trying to balance the demands of work, family, and personal life? If you're an ambitious career woman juggling multiple roles professionally and personally, you're not alone in thinking that the goal of achieving a meaningful work-life balance can seem out of reach. Especially when conventional advice often revolves around the concept of time management when balancing different aspects of our lives. In this post, I’ll dive into why the common approach falls short and will share a deeper perspective on how to achieve meaningful work-life balance.

Pile of rock near lake


Many ambitious career women who are also parents try to achieve work-life balance by reorganizing their schedules, aiming to allocate more time to personal priorities such as kid activities and personal time. While this very valid and logical approach seems promising, it often creates more tension. The missing piece lies in understanding that true balance isn't merely about time management but is deeply rooted in energy management. When we shift our perspective to energy management, which is fluid and dynamic, we start to explore our needs on a deeper, more meaningful level, and as a result, the quality of our work-life balance will follow suit.


Rather than solely focusing on how best to allocate our time for the sake of “balance,” it's important to ask yourself, "What energizes me professionally? Physically? Mentally? Relationally?" By shifting your attention from the logical left brain of time to the creative and sensory right brain, you will receive deeper insight and clarity that will then allow you to make better decisions based on what is most aligned and essential to you, resulting in authentic work-life balance, in which time management is a natural by-product of.

Do you find yourself in a constant state of push? I was pushing through tasks I disliked, pushing myself to exceed goals, pushing myself to be “the best” at everything I did, thinking it was a challenge and opportunity for growth. While pushing my limits is a joyful activity and a natural way for me to operate, doing so compulsively without recognizing and honoring my limits eventually led to severe burnout. Once I decided it was time to re-prioritize my time, I soon discovered that to recalibrate and realign, it is important to evaluate my energy, what drains me, and what fills me, and let the insights lead to how to best reprioritize my time.


Time vs. Energy management


Consider the following scenario where you are someone who enjoys giving presentations and closing new clients but finds loud gatherings draining in your personal life. As you are creating more work-life balance, if you decide you want to spend more time with your family over the next several weeks or months, and you prioritize family time by attending birthday parties or amusement parks over giving a presentation to a new client, this will eventually start to manifest as stress as you are trading in an activity that is potentially energy giving to something that even though enjoyable will drain your energy quicker. True balance involves aligning your time with activities that revive and replenish your energy. Doing so is akin to having your phone plugged in and using it simultaneously. Energy is coming in and out versus only running on a battery.


It’s important to replace some work with family activities, and those family activities should closely align with your personal needs and preferences to manage energy effectively. Being energy-focused when creating a work-life balance is foundational. For a video version of achieving meaningful work-life balance, see my YouTube video, where I cover this topic in more detail. Below are some high-level tips to get you started.


What gives you energy?


Give yourself permission to like and dislike things

First, start by giving yourself permission to like and dislike things. Sadly, it has to be said that most high-achievers who burn out like to treat their dislikes as challenges to be overcome. It’s okay to challenge yourself and stretch your limits, but when it comes to creating meaningful balance, it’s more important to recognize that you have limits, likes, dislikes, and needs that are unique to you. Not everything is a challenge to be overcome or used as a growth opportunity, and that can be a new mindset for high-achievers who thrive in challenges.


Old conditioning that makes you believe that permitting yourself to say “no” is wrong and selfish keeps you from doing so. But if you continue denying your limitations, wants, and needs and continue to achieve from a place of compulsion or belief that you need to go against your own needs, burnout is inevitable. Stretching your limits is not the same as suppressing or ignoring them. Ignoring our own needs is not an act of selflessness but self-neglect.


When you give yourself permission and admit your likes and dislikes regarding certain things and activities related to your job or your family life, you are starting the process of getting to know yourself. And that is not selfish; that is basic self-hood, the care of the Self.


Attune to your body, mind, and heart

We need to start attuning physically, emotionally, and mentally to notice how we respond in certain environments. That involves putting your attention on your body, attuning to your sensations, and labeling your feelings physically and emotionally without judgment. Aligned activities will have an energy of lightness and brightness. Misaligned energy will feel heavier and more constricted. Frustration, anger, and dissatisfaction despite great sleep and spending time on the things you think you love will be pretty dominant when you are misaligned.


Connect with what brings you joy and own it

Do you know what energizes you holistically? Physically, mentally, emotionally? To find out, we need to learn to tune in to our body, mind, and heart, and that requires a bit of slowing down.

We need to let go of the belief that every challenge is worthwhile and a growth opportunity not to be missed. Some professional interactions are energizing, and others are draining. Do you know which ones are which for you? There are also family activities and interactions that are energizing and draining. Are you honest enough to admit which ones are and aren’t for you?


Considering our energy is akin to knowing when to water your plants, how much water they need, and how to thrive. By owning your energy, you will avoid overwatering or underwatering your plant that is you. You will gain the self-knowledge necessary not only to help you prevent burnout but also to create a life that orients you toward thriving, filled with satisfaction, peace, and joy.


Set boundaries to protect your energy

Work-life balance without the ability, skill, and comfort of setting boundaries is unattainable. If setting boundaries is not your strong suit yet, which for most people experiencing burnout symptoms, it is not, it’s important to learn how to advocate for your needs and set appropriate boundaries to protect your energy. It’s like wanting a healthy body, weight, and muscles without going through the discomfort of regular exercise and healthy eating habits.

Once we learn boundaries and how to set them with confidence and grace, they become second nature.



To summarize, instead of focusing solely on time when we create work-life balance, which is only the surface-level solution, introspect, go within, and take inventory of what makes you feel energized, alive, and excited based on your own unique needs versus what other people in your life are doing. To create a meaningful work-life balance and experience more satisfaction and peace, you need to get to know your needs by reconnecting to yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, then unapologetically start managing your time to optimize your energy.


There are four elements that I work on with my clients in my coaching program that are all designed to reconnect you back to yourself and realign your life to your core values, leading to not only burnout-free living but will orient you towards thriving.


If that sounds appealing to you and you are interested in supporting in creating a meaningful holistic work-life balance; I invite you to contact me to explore what’s keeping you from truly embracing, accepting, respecting, and protecting your own needs.

Follow me on Instagram, YouTubeand visit my website for more info!

Yana Carstens Brainz Magazine

Yana Carstens, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Yana Carstens is a Holistic Wellness Coach specializing in burnout prevention and recovery for high achievers in the tech and design industries. With a holistic approach, Yana dives deep into the roots of burnout, offering tailored coaching experiences that empower individuals to excel in their careers and personal lives. Yana guides clients toward lasting well-being and resilience with a holistic mind, body, and heart approach. As a magazine contributor, Yana shares valuable insights and strategies to help you thrive in and out of the office. Join Yana on the journey to a healthier, more balanced life where burnout is a thing of the past and success is redefined on your terms.



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