This Mindset Hack from Ancient Greece Could Totally Transform Your Approach to Work-Life Balance

Woman at Work


AnnaMarie Houlis
AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger

Work-life balance is incredibly important in order to lead a happy and healthy life. In fact, work-life balance is one of the major factors in what drives employee satisfaction. It's why people take jobs, and a lack of work-life balance is often why people leave them.

According to a 2014 study, Americans work 47 hours a week on average — among the highest number of hours in the world. As such, 66 percent of full-time employees report that they don't strongly believe they have a work-life balance, according to an infographic from Family Living Today and Now Sourcing.

So, how exactly do you achieve a better work-life balance (or any balance at all)? The ancient Greeks seem to have figured it out for themselves. Simply put, they think about their time differently. And maybe it's time that you do, too.

It turns out, the ancient Greek language has different words for time, according to a writer from Thrive Global. In a recent article, she indicated that the Greeks typically divided time into two camps:

1. Chronos

This refers to the time we measure on a ticking clock. This is the time we use to meet deadlines and appointments, and it's the time we use to wake up when our alarms go off in the mornings. We cite this kind of time in numbers, such as 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

2. Kairos 

This represents time in the moment. It boasts a spiritual implication that suggests we put everything into that exact moment and receive everything that exact moment has to offer us. It means being present, rather than focusing on that approaching deadline.

It's likely that you operate in Chronos time, since many of us work typical 9-to-5 office hours that involve meeting hourly, daily, weekly and even monthly deadlines, as well as scheduling everything from meetings to appointments to our lunch breaks on a numbered clock. This is a structured way of being, and that's okay.

But you might want to consider taking a page from the ancient Greek's book and start thinking about which type of time energizes you and which type of time exhausts you.

For some people who love structure and deadlines motivate them, Chronos time might very well be the energizing kind. But for others who strongly believe in the purpose of their work and need meaning to find fulfillment in their careers, perhaps using Kairos time will energize them more. While it's difficult to schedule in reflection time into your Chronos hours of the day (and it sort of defeats the purpose of having to schedule it at all), you can start taking steps to live in each moment more.

For example, while you're at work, continuously remind yourself of why you're doing what you're doing — but instead of focusing on the end goal, which is in the future, focus on how your work makes you feel in that moment. If you need to, create space for yourself to step away and intentionally spend a few minutes meditating on the meaning of your work — whether that's during your morning coffee or during your evening commute home.

For most of us, a combination of Chronos and Kairos time is probably best. To work well with others on a team, structure is key. And to work well with ourselves, and to find inspiration, Kairos time is critical.

For tips on how to build Kairos time into your workday, consider checking out some of our zen meditation hacks here.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog,, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.