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Understanding the Work : Eat : Play Balance

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Everybody needs to understand The Work | Eat | Play Balance and how it affects your everyday life.

Work Eat Play Balance


For much of the last decade everyone has been banging on about achieving Work | Life Balance so much so that it has almost become mainstream thinking. Society embraces it and employers tolerate it – it’s a fait accompli.


But what about Work | Eat | Play Balance, isn’t that sort of the same thing..?

Er… No, and that’s precisely the point!

Lets break it down into its constituent parts and start with ‘Work‘. Work as everybody knows and accepts is the ‘monkey on your back‘ that we all have to deal with. It’s the thing that allows us to entertain the other two (Eat and Play). It tends to take up most of our weekdays between the hours of 9am – 5pm.

Now lets look at the meaning of ‘Life‘ in Work | Life balance. I guess in its most simplest form, its everything else that is not Work! For most of us that’s a hell of a lot of stuff and worthy of more than just a single word. There are parts of life we begrudgingly do and there are those parts of life we willingly do and it’s perhaps misleading to group them together under ‘Life’.

Play‘ is an easy one. It’s all the fun stuff we get to do. Time with our families, playing sport, hobbies and generally anything that gives us enjoyment. It’s the part of ‘Life’ that makes the other two (Work and Eat) seem worthwhile. We tend to squeeze our playtime in after work and on the weekends.

The last one is ‘Eat‘ but it’s not just about food. Eat in the context of Work | Eat | Play Balance is that part of our time devoted to servicing the other two (Work and Play). In it’s simplest form, we eat food so we have the energy to work and play. Taking it further, ‘Eat’ encompasses doing the shopping, washing the car, doing laundry, maintaining the house, maintaining ourselves (servicing your Id) and anything that revolves around looking after ourselves and our family.

In short, Work is getting it; Eat is servicing it; and Play is using it – the cycle of Life.

You need all three and its all about balancing the time you spend on each that makes the difference.

The word ‘Balance‘ itself can be a bit misleading in the context of Work | Life Balance and Work | Eat | Play Balance because it suggests some sort of equality between the various parts. As if Work should be 50% and Life should be 50% or in the later case each of Work, Eat and Play enjoying 33.3% of our time! But again this is too myopic and not strictly true.

Balance suggests that neither component in Work | Eat | Play should take overall precedence or demand more of your resources or continually override the other two. All three get equal billing.

Now here’s the fun bit, what if you enjoy your work, it gives you a thrill and you do it willingly, in fact you do it on weekends and in the evening because you love it so! Ostensibly in this case, you could consider Work to be Play!

Or worse, what if spending time with your family is done begrudgingly and is hard yakka and not enjoyable. You only do it to ‘keep the peace’. You wouldn’t be wrong to consider this Play to actually be a part of Eat.

And then there’s the super wealthy or celebrities who spend their time looking after what they have got, servicing themselves and their possessions and never doing an ‘honest days work’. One could argue that their Eat is actually their Work.

Soon you realise that there is no perfectly defined balance, or that one persons ‘balance’ could work for another. Even one persons view of their own ‘Work | Eat | Play Balance‘ could be vastly different to another persons view of that same ‘Work | Eat | Play Balance‘ (and classically between husband and wife, this ends in divorce).

So where does that leave you and I?

It leaves us with a lot of questions that need answering, that’s where!

If you can just keep an eye on the Work | Eat | Play Balance while journeying through life, and make small adjustments as and when necessary, you’ll be surprised at the outcome.

Remember - anything that’s lopsided always falls over.

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