I’ve spent the month of July curating posts at The Hiring Site about work-life balance. I’m proud of the team’s work over there. There are excellent pieces on unlimited PTO, giving up technology for a weekend, and paternity leave. You should go check it out.

But reading about work-life balance never saved anybody’s sanity. The key is to read, reflect and act.

Evaluate whether or not the advice applies to you.

Do you have work-life balance problems, or do you have unrealistic expectations of adulthood? Grownups are busy. They have obligations. And even the luckiest among us will do stuff they don’t want to do. Maybe you would have plenty of balance if you stopped expecting balance and embraced the very normal and ordinary blend of calm and chaos that adults experience in a lifetime.

Don’t automatically assume you need a vacation.

I know so many working parents who feel stressed out and tired. They take a vacation, return to work and look like they’ve slogged through a WWII battle scene. Vacations can be hard work that require planning, coordination, and patience. If you want to drop hard-earned money on a vacation, consider a staycation where you invest in a cleaning service and get the house organized.

Read this closely: Don’t horde your time off.

Far too many benefits plans reward American workers for skipping a vacation and coming to work. Your “days off” do have cash value and are part of your total rewards package; however, even your CEO takes time off. Skipping vacation days makes you weird and cuts you off from real life. If it’s important for you to carry time over, carry the smallest amount of time into the new plan year and use your vacation days to get a hobby or visit family and friends. The future version of yourself—unemployed or retired—will thank you for that investment.

One more thought.

It’s really easy to give vague work-life balance advice, which is why I’ve teamed up closely with The Hiring Site to suggest realistic advice that applies to your professional development. I’m passionate about creating healthy space and boundaries between work and life. I also recognize that work is life for some people. The best vacation policies don’t apply to everybody.

So my last piece of advice is simple.

If you need time off, take it. Don’t need time off? Take it, anyway, and make the most of it. Volunteer. Take a walk. Cut your grass.

I am looking at you, my neighbor lady with a bunch of toys strewn around her house. (I’m also looking at my husband who needs to paint our front door and clean out the garage.) A day spent organizing your life and being productive is a day worth taking.

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