'Life balance' must be one of the most elusive achievements on the planet. It's way more than a simple 'work versus relaxation' equation. It's about finding the time and discipline to do everything you need and want to do: housework, home maintenance, spending time with family, seeing friends, exercise, travel, indulging in pastimes, pursuing dreams.
All too often one or more of these get trampled by work (and the effects of work) or blatant procrastination. The fact is that working full-time can take a lot out of you, both in time and energy, and this can make it difficult to find time and energy for all the other things. Some will happen, others won't. Either way, it's frustrating.
I really admire people who take steps to reduce the impact full-time work can have on pursuing dreams. (These comments can of course be taken in the context of writing fiction!) Whether it's the decision to go part-time, change careers, start up a work-from-home business, or take a break from work entirely, these are people who believe in themselves and are not slaves to the dollar.
Being a published author in Australia (let alone an unpublished one) does not typically pay much, so invariably alternative incomes have to be scrounged and sacrifices have to be made. I was talking last night with one successful Australian author, who can now afford to write full-time, but only after seven years of eking out a living. Her advice to me was do it, make the commitment as soon as possible, because monetary commitments only increase as you get older. I'm just not that brave, or perhaps it's confidence in my own ability I'm lacking. Perhaps if I had a novel picked up, I would see things differently.
So for me it comes down to playing tetras with life-around-work and trying to make the best possible use of time and energy.
One conflict in particular is reading versus writing. Through various Internet paths, I came across bestfantasybooks.com today. This web site lists an abundance of books, plenty of which I haven't yet read. Sitting back and devouring would be so much easier than painstakingly creating. How am I ever going to find the time to read all these books, not to mention just as many non-fantasy novels, and write at the same time?
The question is moot. I will carry on trying to fit everything in: to minimise procrastination time (ie TV), to commit to a writing routine and try to squeeze in some of everything else. I fear, however, that if life balance is achieved it will be temporary at best, as some other thing is bound to emerge and topple the equilibrium.