Insights from YWiB's Re-Imagining Work-Life Balance


On April 19th, YWiB Vancouver hosted Re-Imagining Work-Life Balance, an event on the topic of improving our well-being. We invited thought leaders from across various industries to join our conversation on re-defining work-life balance for the modern day professional.

Facilitated by Nareena Switlo of Naledo, our panel consisted of Therahealth Network’s Jo-Anne Weiler, Cossette’s Robyn Smith, NestworksMadeleine Shaw, and Naturopathic Physician Dr. Kathleen Mahannah. During the discussion, they imparted their tips and tricks for establishing more balance into your daily routine and and shared their thoughts on expanding our definition of work-life balance by considering emerging societal trends, such as being mindful of our technology usage and advocating for an integrated space in the workplace.

Set Boundaries

For Robyn Smith, enforcing separation between work and life is key. She hustles hard during work hours, but when the work day is done, she spends her time focused on other priorities. Kathleen Mahannah also establishes clear and firm boundaries by choosing to do things that she loves that fills her soul - such as being in nature and being with loved ones - during her free time, which she holds sacred. Jo-Anne Weiler believes that having unstructured time in your day to “let that wild child inside yourself out a little bit” is key to finding innovation and inspiration, along with being with people, and expanding your learning.

Challenge the Status Quo

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to work-life balance, as it looks different to every individual person. Case in point, Madeleine Shaw’s form of work-life balance is based on the integration of her work and her life, as she sees those two spheres as working alongside each other in a state of flow. Madeleine encouraged the room to consider the systemic issues that hinder women from achieving balance in their career and homes lives, and challenged women to ask for more support from their employers. As she wisely stated, “the world can be different, but only if you make it that way.”

Shut Off

Coming from the corporate world, Robyn’s recharge time is drawn from separating and compartmentalizing the different aspects of her life. As someone who values the importance of being present, she strongly advocates for professionals to disconnect from technology outside of work hours. Having a company cell phone can imply that one has to be ‘on’ and connected at all times, but Robyn believes this shouldn’t be the case. A few of her personal tips and tricks include turning off notifications on her devices and placing her phone away from her room to remove the temptation to get distracted from her morning and nightly routines. To set an example for her team, she schedules her emails to be sent out at more appropriate times of the day to prevent her team members from feeling obligated to respond right away and screwing up their own balance in the process.

Write it Down

Disconnecting from technology doesn’t mean disconnecting from one’s communication and thought processes. It means professionals can look into other ways of recording and sharing their ideas. When she wakes up in middle of the night with thoughts, ideas, and to-do list items, Jo-Anne writes them down in the journal by her nightstand, a practice similarly shared by Nareena and Kathleen to relax and recenter. When it comes to planning out her week, Robyn says that once something is written down in her calendar, it’s scheduled and it happens.

Take Care of Yourself

Healthy habits such as exercising regularly, eating well, and meditating makes a difference in how one feels. For Robyn, the first indication that things in her life aren’t balanced is when her exercise routine goes off the rails. Kathleen’s hack for maintaining an exercise routine is to do it with friends, as it combines fitness and social time, and the accountability is built in to discouraging you from bailing. The panelists shared other ideas for sneaking exercise into your daily routine, such as walking to work, doing yoga in the morning, and taking stretch breaks at work. One way in which Madeleine prioritizes her personal wellness and wholeness is by regularly consulting her internal barometer and checking in with how she feels. When feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities and deadlines, our panelists agree that it is important to pause, take a deep breath, and slow down.

Ask for Help

Jo-Anne says that due to our natural reaction to stress, we tend to isolate ourselves and not seek assistance. In fact, people like being asked for help! She recommends utilizing the power of your network by asking those within your circle for support, such as when mothers share babysitting duties with other mothers. To help her as an entrepreneur building up her practice, Kathleen surrounds herself with mentors in her profession who’ve gone through the same experience and emit the hopeful, positive, and hardworking energy she’s motivated by. Robyn dropped a stunning insight that “you are not as important as you think you are,” meaning that teams are there for a reason. When you trust in your team and their capabilities, you’ll find that you can rely and ask those around you for help more easily and more often.

Just Do It

Robyn and Madeleine also put into perspective the importance of doing the work when you have a lot on your plate. Robyn believes that you have to get things done on your checklist in order to clear space for what else you can do and accomplish. As Madeline says, “get on with it and do the work - it’s never as bad as you think it will be”.

When it comes to finding your work-life balance, it’s important to be open-minded, flexible, and intentional in how you choose to design your life, which at the end of the day serves to allow you to be the best ‘you’ you can be in all areas of your multifaceted life.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to stay up to date on event announcements and other YWiB news!

Elizabeth Rosalyn The is the Communications Coordinator for YWiB Vancouver's events team. Currently, she is the content & social media specialist at Rise People, a digital HR software company that brings HR, payroll, and benefits together in an all-in-one people platform.

A lover of stories, she lives to explore and write about the arts, music, entertainment, travel, and culture, all while sipping on a cup of earl grey tea. She is one of the founding directors of the pop culture & lifestyle magazine, The Hudsucker. Visit her personal blog at Elizabeth Rosalyn.