Balancing our personal lives and professional commitments is an increasingly difficult task in our ridiculously busy contemporary society. We love our time off with family and friends, but are compelled to work overtime to achieve those precious vacation days. While a rewarding job and satisfying quality of life may seem at odds with each other, there are ways to achieve balance so neither is sacrificed.

The Challenge to Stay Balanced

Even for a single working professional, finding equilibrium between your day job and social life can be stressful. There are pressures to move ahead at work, and still find time to date, and date again. Once marriage or serious relationships enter the mix, there are even more obligations, and less time. And if kids come into the picture…well, your quest for balance just went straight off the rails. We know our family and friends come first, so why do we spend so much time at work?

At Least Partially About the Benjamins

Some people have jobs where being off the clock happily means giving nary an off-hours thought to work. But those jobs often can’t pay the bills and lead us to more demanding positions and longer hours. To make the money that many of our lives demand, we inevitably bring our work home with us to get ahead, impress the boss, or simply clock in a little overtime. And for those who don’t have salaried positions, time is money, with more work leading to more income. Where do we draw the line? If the option to make more money is there, does it make sense to turn it down?

Time Can Be Better Than Money

The answer to that last question is: yes, it can often be more ideal to back away from extra money and enjoy a little more free time. Granted, this isn’t always an option that can be taken, but it’s crucial to keep that outlook in perspective. Whether it’s making an extra buck on a project or working overtime on those spreadsheets just to stay ahead in the office, sometimes a break for a breather or more time with your loved ones is worth it. Define what is most important to you, and stick to those principles, regardless of how many dollar signs are dangled before you.

Streamline Your Time

So how can you find that elusive equilibrium? First, ditch any draining activities or standing obligations. If you are routinely involved in an endeavor that gives you nothing in return, whether it’s a bad relationship or pointless committee work, cut it loose and set yourself that much freer. Then manage the time that you’ve got — dividing it up between the parts of your life that have the most resonance, including all-important moments for yourself. There’s no such thing as a perfectly aligned life, but your earnest efforts at keeping a reasonable balancing act will reward you with time well spent.

Remember what is most important to you in life. And never put a price tag on it.