What Is Work-Life Balance? (The Statistical Definition)

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Work-life balance [noun]: parity between the time you have for personal and professional use

The pursuit of work-life balance is inherently personal. For some who love their jobs or businesses, maximizing work time might lead to personal happiness. For those who dislike their jobs, doing the absolute minimum to retain income might maximize happiness. For most, work-life balance lies somewhere in between.

That’s why writing one catch-all definition for work-life balance is tough. But I had an idea to strip out my own personal bias around the term.

I asked my list of contributors to answer a simple question, “What is work-life balance?” I received 186 unique definitions. Then, I did some number crunching.


What Is Work-Life Balance?

The number crunching

Across the 186 definitions, there were 9,697 total words to describe work-life balance. Here were the most frequently used words (and how often they were used):

  1. and: 415
  2. **balance: 256
  3. work: 236
  4. **work-life: 195
  5. **life: 180
  6. your: 152
  7. time: 146
  8. that: 141
  9. for: 119
  10. personal: 104
  11. with: 75
  12. can: 64
  13. when: 55
  14. professional: 49
  15. have: 48
  16. between: 48
  17. family: 46
  18. about: 44
  19. means: 44
  20. being: 44

*I removed articles (“a” and “the”), prepositions (“in” and “at” and “on” etc.), and pronouns (“i” and “he” etc.) from the list.

**In the spirit of ninth grade English class, I removed “work” and “life” and “balance” from the list since we mustn’t use the words in the definition.


The statistical definition

I rearranged the bolded words in the list to build the definition with the most mentioned words across the dataset. And I added one word on each end to have the definition make sense.

This is what I came up with for a statistically driven definition of work-like balance:

Parity between (#16) the time (#7) you have (#15) for (#9) personal (#10) and (#1) professional (#14) use

Here it is without the word rankings:

Work-life balance [noun]: parity between the time you have for personal and professional use


How do you define work-life balance?

Below, I’ll highlight some of the interesting definitions that my list of contributors provided. This should give you a variety of ways to look at the meaning of work-life balance.

“Work-life balance is the delicate dance of keeping all of the balls in the air professionally, personally and emotionally.”


– Racheal Hageness of Aspen James Design

“The ability to fit all aspects of life into a 24-hour day.”


– Catherine Wilson of Essential Derma

“Work-life balance is having the time and more importantly the positive energy that allows you to do the things you enjoy without the nagging stress of work.”


– Simon Bacher of Simya Solutions

“Setting a healthy boundary between your career and personal life.”


– Anton Giuroiu of Homesthetics.net.

“Having the flexibility to prioritize ourselves and our families in a way that complements our professional lives and development.”


– Natalie McGowan of Humap

“Don’t think of work and life as two separate things. This all starts with knowing your purpose — the deeper meaning that allows you to prioritize what you’ll say yes to in your life (and maybe more importantly what you will say no to in your life) without ever feeling an ounce of guilt.”


– Heather Wolfson of Maven Coaching & Consulting

“My definition of work-life balance is a state of equilibrium where people balance their career and personal life.”


– Kristi Smith of Honest Brand Reviews

“Work-life balance means my work complements my life, not the other way around.”


– Melanie Edwards of OLIPOP

“In essence, work-life balance is the attempt to separate or compartmentalize the different aspects of work and personal life so they rarely impact each other negatively or over-proportionately.”


– Braden Norwood of VTR Learning

“I don’t use the term work-life balance. It’s like nails on a chalkboard. I believe in boundaries between work and personal life. I believe that work is a part of life, not a separate part of the scale that should balance out the rest of your life.”


– Susan Lee of Hey Ms. Lee

“Work-life balance is a state in which you draw as much enjoyment out of your work and personal life rather than being in a state of always wanting more.”


– Cody Candee of Bounce

“Work-life balance is the ability to own your time.”


– LaToria Pierce of Handoff

“Work-life balance is when I can maintain a healthy lifestyle at work and home, without letting either interfere with the other.”


– Phillip Imler of National Parks

“Work life balance is the freedom to keep your own hours, and the flexibility to choose the time of the day when you work, and the time you give to family and yourself.”

– Smita Das Jain of Empower Yourself

“Work doesn’t consume your entire life, existence, and identity. It’s about being a person outside of work, rather than your identity being defined by it.”


– Tim White of Milepro

“Being able to close the computer at the end of the day and not think about it until my computer is open again.”


– Chris Martinez of Idiomatic

“Work-life balance is being able to flexibly manage both work and life needs sustainably without burning out.”


– Zach Goldstein of Public Rec

“When work and life don’t feel like they’re competing with each other, but rather they work together harmoniously.”


– Logan Mallory of Motivosity

“Work-life balance is finding the harmony between what you do to earn income and the life you live when you are not earning income.”


– Michelle Fuller of One Bold MF

“An outdated ideology that inadvertently increase the stress and pressure people experience on a day-to-day basis.”


– Declan Edwards of BU Happiness College

“Feeling like you’re able to be present at work and present at home when needed – and finding fulfillment in both.”


– Amanda Richardson of CoderPad

“Work-life balance is when the stress of work does not outweigh the enjoyment of life.”


– Anthony Puopolo of RexMD

See Also: 27 Best Work-Life Balance Jobs


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