Top four TED Talks on Balancing Work and Family

20 Sep 2017
‘Work-life balance’ is a term that we hear fairly often in this day and age. In a world that is often rushed, with virtually no time to stop and smell the roses, people are striving for a way to balance out the rat race that is their careers – with spending enough quality time with their friends, family and on themselves.

Many people believe that balancing work and family is simply an unattainable dream, that we as humans are either going to be family-driven or career-driven and that we will prioritise one or the other. Others spend their entire time striving to find this balance (which in itself might have an adverse effect on the balance itself) and at least most people do think that balancing work and family is possible to a degree and while the perfect balance may not be possible, that there are ways to get close.

So, what exactly do the professionals think about it? Do they believe balancing work and family is a possibility? Here are our four favourite TED talks on work-life balance:

“Off Balance, on Purpose.” by Dan Thurmon



Dan Thurmon has a controversial view of balancing work and family. In this talk, he shows that while he knows this balance is desired and strived for – he believes that it is completely unattainable. He goes on to say that while we push ourselves to reach this ‘perfect balance’ we are doing more damage than good by reaching for something that we can never get.

He presents us with the philosophy of being “off balance on purpose”. That is we live lives that are never going to be balanced, and that are never meant to be. Being off balance allows us to learn lessons and grow – it teaches us to better ourselves and appreciate the small moments.

“How to Make Work-Life Balance” by Nigel Marsh


On the other end of the spectrum is Nigel Marsh. He places emphasis on making your work-life balance an absolute priority that you can naturally expect to fall into place: "If you don't design your life, someone else will design it for you, and you may just not like their idea of balance," he says.

He goes on to explain how making smaller, meaningful changes is more beneficial than making huge ones in order to reach a happy place between family and work. Small adjustments rather than radical ones are easier and more attainable when balancing work and family.

“Work-life balance: Balancing Time or Balancing Identity? By Michelle Ryan


The gender divide is something that is widely discussed in the workplace, and it is no more prevalent than in debates about balancing work and family. Many people are under the impression that women are more family-orientated and therefore are also most likely to strive for the work-life balance. This often means that employers (mistakenly) believe that women are less ambitious, and are more likely to take jobs that won’t impact on the time that they spend with their family.

Michelle Ryan discusses these views and the difficulties that come for women when making this decision, as well as new research that is providing insight into the complexities of women in the workplace.

“Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work” by Jason Fried


If there is one question that Jason Fried likes to ask it’s: "Where do you go when you need to get something done?" He has been asking various people this question for around a decade now, and surprisingly enough the answer is very rarely the office. Most people like to work at home, in the study, in the kitchen and at odd hours. Fried has found that workplaces that force specific hours are counter-intuitive to productivity – as not everyone is at their best during work hours.

His talk describes how you can change things around in the office to make it a place that people want to go to.

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