Briefing Notes: Rebalancing the Balance

Published: June 14, 2020

“We have choices to make… if we truly believe what we say we believe.” — Alisha Sommer


Work-Life Balance. It’s always been one of those delicate things that need constant retuning.

With everything that’s going on, maintaining that finicky balance is harder than ever. And simply waiting for things to get back to normal may not be the smart way to go.

Why this matters:

WLB is a challenge that comes from the interplay of the many hats that we play: leader, team member, partner, spouse, parent, grandparent, friend, sibling, child— and more.

The functional health of our relationships relies on a level of predictability and structure around these different roles and routines. It’s no surprise we all feel destabilized and stressed when circumstances change the “normal” ways we work and live.

The pandemic has resulted in all kinds of changes to our work routines. Ignoring that these changes affect how or when we wear our different hats — hoping that all will return to normal soon enough — is not a good relationship strategy. Instead, the goal is to find the balance in our work and life in this new normal.

This piece from Fidelity suggests 5 practices for navigating our changing roles and routines.

  1. Resetting our intimacy dances: All our relationships have patterns of engagement. This is called “intimacy dance.” Changes in routine—such as an extended work-from-home situation—can alter our dances. Some may like it and set new expectations. Others may find it uncomfortable and try to find a new equilibrium.
  2. Expanding our mental models about what work-life balance means: WLB means different things to different people. A mental model that WFH means you get 8 hours of uninterrupted time leads to one set of actions. A mental model that WFH means you are free to work anywhere in the house at any time of the day will generate an entirely different set.
  3. Establishing concrete boundaries around time: Boundaries are the parameters we set around the time we spend in the different areas of our lives. When our normal time structures are turned upside down, we need to reset, articulate, and clarify new boundaries.
  4. Finding alignment around our new reality: We’re going to need to define a new set of outcomes given the new reality. The process starts by envisioning the desired state together so that everyone gets a chance to express their wishes instead of rushing in with our point of view.
  5. Using process questions to navigate the new normal: Process questions are naturally empathy questions. They help us step into someone else’s experience, rather than assuming we know how they’re feeling or how something is affecting them.

Bottom line:

The degree of disruption we’re all going through requires us to be mindful of our new roles and routines. And to recognize that these changes are impacting our relationships.

The suggested practices build our mindfulness muscle. With that, we can better evaluate what a balance between work and life might look and feel like in this our new normal.


I’m so over the phrase “now more than ever”. You too? Let’s just agree that upskilling and reskilling are really (and I mean, really) important now.

Skillshare offers thousands of short classes. You can prepare for what’s coming next and secure your career without requiring huge blocks of time and energy. Try Skillshare with your first two months free.*

*P.S. This is an affiliate link.


  • As we get older, that internal call to do meaningful work gets louder and louder. Defining our purpose is a helpful step toward fulfilling work. Here’s a five-minute thought exercise to help us come up with a personal and professional purpose statement.
  • You and I both know, it’s all in the follow-up. Meeting someone (virtually or IRL) is only the first step. It’s what happens next that matters. And a key to that post-meeting phase is writing an effective follow-up email.
  • Video: 16 Levels of Complexity demonstrated by pianist/composer Nahre Sol using the Happy Birthday tune. I couldn’t stop watching this for some reason and the payoff at the 16th level was worth it!


“The reality is we have choices to make. Choices that might require us to be more uncomfortable than we have ever been, or are willing to be, if we truly believe what we say we believe.” — Alisha Sommer, writer/photographer/storyteller


This is usually the time when we’re firming up our vacation plans and summer trips, yes? Well, that’s going to have to be postponed for.. well, your guess is as good as mine. But lots of people are finding pleasure in planning their post-pandemic vacation on Pinterest. Here’s why it’s perfect for a productive form of distraction and in itself, a small act of creation. (Note to Self: Do this.)


I missed his purpleness, “Prince” Rogers Nelson’s birthday last week. Prince was regarded as one of the greatest musicians of his and our generation, and he would have been 62 years old today. In celebration, here is the maestro performing my favorite, “Kiss”, at his own induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in 2004. What an amazing talent.


🎙 Unpredictability is definitely the name of the 2020 game. So, what can we do when nothing’s a given? Are we simply to flounder around or resign ourselves to being in the dark? As my guest, Aenslee Tanner pointed out, luckily there are people out there who operate in the realm of complexity theory. And there are models we can use to help us make decisions and move forward when all bets are off. In fact, we discuss one of them and I learned quite a bit! The latest episode: Managing Ourselves and Our Careers in Unpredictable Times


Second Breaks is researched, written, and edited by me alone. Each issue takes hours to produce and requires paid subscriptions to numerous journals, magazines, and books to get the widest and best source of information. If you find value in the newsletter, I’d so much appreciate you subsidizing my coffee habit 😊 It helps with the research and the writing!

Buy Me a Coffee



My original 2020 plans included a major life change and a relocation by mid-year. None of that’s happening and I haven’t got a clue as to when these plans may be feasible again.

So, it’s been an interesting exercise in reframing, changing of tires while the car’s in motion (so to speak), and patience. Beaucoup patience. I think that’s been my biggest personal growth area so far.

What’s yours?

Best wishes for a productive, safe, and sane week. Hit ‘reply’ and send comments, if you’ve started bartering yet, your postponed travel plans, or favorite Prince songs.

Cool beans,
Lou Blaser


A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Briefing Notes and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on helping experienced professionals navigate an evolving work landscape so they can continue their impact and relevance in a changing world.

The world of work is changing.

Stay smart about it.

__CONFIG_colors_palette__{"active_palette":0,"config":{"colors":{"a9e5b":{"name":"Main Accent","parent":-1}},"gradients":[]},"palettes":[{"name":"Default Palette","value":{"colors":{"a9e5b":{"val":"var(--tcb-color-0)","hsl":{"h":0,"s":0.01,"l":0.01}}},"gradients":[]},"original":{"colors":{"a9e5b":{"val":"rgb(19, 114, 211)","hsl":{"h":210,"s":0.83,"l":0.45}}},"gradients":[]}}]}__CONFIG_colors_palette__
get briefing notes