Can AI Solve Our Work-Life Balance Challenges, or Is It Just Wishful Thinking?

Posted on September 11, 2023

The Definitive Guide to AI for Executive, Entrepreneurial, and Women in Business

I asked AI for examples of women who successfully balance family, work, and travel, and it listed four names:

  1. Sheryl Sandberg
  2. Marissa Mayer
  3. Arianna Huffington
  4. Oprah Winfrey

No offense to the four because they are iconic leaders, but only four?! And only the same names who have been held up as the gold standard for a few decades now?

Yes, those four GOATs have so much to teach us, but repeatedly using the same examples is discouraging. After all this time, has no one else joined the club?

Tech promised us we could work smarter, not harder, but the US remains the most overworked nation in the world, and women are disproportionately affected by work-life balance issues.

Yet I’m guessing your feed is full of AI apps, links, and promises about how this is the tech you’ve been waiting for. One website says AI is here to enable automation across all knowledge work to accelerate human achievement and propel the world forward. Whoa.

But many women are skeptical, and rightfully so because male-dominated tech is created mainly by and for the benefit of men, so what does AI have to offer women?

Let’s uncover the real opportunity AI represents for working women. Can AI solve our work/life balance challenges, or is it just wishful thinking?

Follow me down the rabbit hole to excavate the truth:

Part 1: Characterizing the work/life balance problem
Part 2: Using AI to improve work/life balance
Part 3: How to get started

Part 1: Work/Life Balance 101

Successful women have a lot of aspirations, but some of the most common ones focus on the intersection of family, career, and travel:

  • Balance. Many women want a successful career without sacrificing their family. They want to spend time with their children and spouses and be there for life’s important moments.
  • Achievement. Many women are ambitious and driven. They want to achieve their career goals, whether becoming a CEO, starting their own business, or significantly impacting their field.
  • Adventure. Many women love to travel and experience new things. They want to see the world and make incredible memories with the people they love most.
  • Impact. Many women want to make a difference in the world. They want to advance important issues like equal rights, climate change, or education and champion causes they believe in.

Of course, they have many additional aspirations, too, but despite their passions, intentions, and qualifications, they are also frustrated and overwhelmed with the responsibilities of daily life.

  • Sheryl Sandberg was the COO of Facebook. She advocated for women in the workforce in her book about balancing work and family life called “Lean In.”
  • Marissa Mayer was the CEO of Yahoo. As a pioneer in the tech industry, she was praised for her work ethic and ability to juggle a demanding career with motherhood.
  • Arianna Huffington is the founder of The Huffington Post. She has championed work-life balance and has written a book called “Thrive.”
  • Oprah Winfrey is a media mogul and philanthropist. She is one of the most successful women in the world and has used her platform to make a difference in the lives of millions of people.

But, even they didn’t have it easy — their choices were scrutinized globally — and they faced what every woman faces:

  • The motherhood penalty
  • The repercussions of emotional labor
  • The systemic failing of the rights and support systems for pregnant, post-partum, and working mothers.

The GOATs have unfathomable resources and still need help at times. But the struggle isn’t the only thing women have in common. As women advance in their careers, their priorities often shift in similar ways, too:

  • A greater focus on work-life balance. As women achieve higher levels of success in their careers, they often become more focused on maximizing and protecting their free time.
  • A stronger sense of purpose. As women move up the ranks, they may develop a stronger sense of purpose in their work, feel more connected to a larger mission, and be more motivated to make a difference.
  • A greater willingness to take risks. As women gain experience and confidence, they become more willing to take career risks, start businesses, or move into leadership positions with more visibility.
  • A greater focus on giving back. Many women who advance in their careers become more focused on giving back to their communities, volunteering their time, and mentoring others.

Of course, not all women experience the same shifts in priorities, but often, as women advance, their confidence, capabilities, and earning power grows, too, which means their lives and their family’s lives improve, sometimes dramatically. Their sphere of influence expands as well:

  • It can lead to increased financial security. A successful career can give women the financial security to support themselves and their families.
  • It can provide a sense of accomplishment. Achieving success in a career can be a source of great pride and accomplishment for women.
  • It can open up new opportunities. Career advancement can lead to new opportunities for women, such as traveling, moving to a new city, and learning new things to grow personally and professionally.

But that’s the best-case scenario, and far more women struggle with work-life balance than not. If the women in your life say things like this:

  • “I feel like I’m always running behind.”
  • “I never have enough time.”
  • “I can’t remember the last time I didn’t feel stressed and overwhelmed.”
  • “I’m not doing a good job at work or home.”
  • “I can’t afford to think about that.”
  • “I’m letting everyone down.”

It may be a sign that they feel guilty about not spending enough time with their families or not meeting their full potential at work, and that pull between the two can be demoralizing. While the tension ebbs and flows, it can compound over a career with debilitating consequences.

And because of gender stereotypes, lack of flexibility, and unconscious bias, women can’t always improve work/life balance on their own:

  • Gender stereotypes. Women are still often seen as the primary caregivers in families, even when they work full-time, leading them to take on more responsibility for childcare and household chores.
  • Lack of flexibility. Many workplaces still don’t offer flexible work arrangements, or WFH, making it difficult for women to balance their work and caregiving responsibilities.
  • Unconscious bias. Women may face unconscious bias in the workplace, making it difficult for them to advance their careers or get the same opportunities as men, making it harder to prove themselves or achieve their full potential.

If you are a woman struggling with work-life balance, there are many things you can do to cope, including setting boundaries, delegating, and asking for help.

Remember, you’re not alone. But if that’s a small comfort when you feel like you’re drowning, if your manager has completely unreasonable expectations, or if you have a child with special needs or health considerations, this is for you.

Keep reading if you worry about your school shutting down unexpectedly, have been or are in danger of being priced out of childcare in your market, or know an upcoming schedule change threatens to force you to drop the balls you’re juggling.

Because your fears are valid —  when women fail to figure out work/life balance, the consequences are significant:

  • Stress and burnout. When women constantly feel overwhelmed and stressed, it can lead to burnout and even leaving the workforce, impacting their families, futures, and the pipeline of women in the industry.
  • Depression and anxiety. Chronic stress can also lead to depression and anxiety. These mental health conditions can make functioning at work and home difficult.
  • Physical health problems. Stress can also contribute to physical health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity and increase medical expenses.
  • Relationship problems. When women are constantly stressed and busy, it can affect their relationships with their partners, children, and friends.
  • Low self-esteem. When women feel like they’re not doing a good job at work or home, it can damage their self-esteem, leading to guilt, shame, and worthlessness.
  • Decision fatigue. When women are constantly making weighty decisions for a family, it can lead to decision fatigue. This mental exhaustion can be distracting and make it harder to focus.

Those problems are distressing for women and have implications and consequences that ripple across families, communities, organizations, and industries, so it’s in our collective best interest to solve them as a society.

Yet the problems have been pressing for years, and there’s little progress to celebrate. Since you can’t hold your breath forever, there are things you can do right away to lighten your load.

Improving work-life balance takes time, there will be more setbacks, and there isn’t an easy answer, but there is a glimmer of hope, and that’s AI. AI offers a new opportunity for successful women to be more productive, manage stress more effectively, streamline their days to their advantage, and find unexpected and much-needed support. Here’s how:

Part 2: A Practical Introduction to Using AI for Work/Life Balance

Some people are already using AI for work/life balance:

  • Personal Assistants: Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri can help you set reminders, walk you through a recipe while making dinner, automatically order your dog’s medicine every month, and play your favorite podcast while you tackle home improvement projects. These shortcuts can free up time and mental space to focus on other things, such as being present with family and friends or pursuing hobbies.
  • Scheduling Assistants: A handful of AI-powered scheduling and time management tools, including Trevor and Clockwise, can help you find the best times to meet with clients or colleagues, reschedule to avoid conflicts, and eliminate back-and-forth communication.
  • Habit Tracking, Prioritization, Project, and Time Management Apps: The rest combine the functions above. For example, Fitbit, Duolingo, and Calm are apps with AI that can help you take steps toward a specific goal (in this case, better health, learning a new language, and better sleep), while Goaly, Habit Driven, and Streaks are three AI-powered habit trackers. Taskade and Reclaim help you organize your To-do list. Click Up, Notion, Monday, and Asana are project management tools with AI components to help you identify where you can be more efficient and make time for your most important tasks.

You don’t need all of these tools. Still, it’s good to know that there are a myriad of tools like these out there that can help you reduce stress and overwhelm and improve work/life balance by automating tasks, helping you focus, providing personalized insights, improving your overall well-being, and freeing your time up for more meaningful activities.

As the technology continues to develop, you can expect to see even more innovative ways to use AI to improve your work/life balance, but I encourage you to experiment now because AI has proven and untapped potential. It can be a powerful tool for helping you achieve your goals, so there’s no reason to wait.

If it seems too good to be true, try to suspend judgment a little longer. Think of it like cable television vs. streaming media. When cable TV became a thing, it was really cool before it became too much of a good thing.

There were channels for everyone and anyone, but the packages became bloated, and you ended up paying for a zillion channels you didn’t want and still couldn’t find anything to watch.

Then streaming came along as the perfect antidote, but eventually, you had to download dozens of apps of different qualities. Finding the shows you loved became harder and harder, and your credentials only worked sometimes, sucking the joy out of relaxing (again).

The point is this: Like all tech evolutions, it’s only good if you figure out how to integrate it into your life without letting it take over your life.

AI is only going to work if you make it work for you:

  • If you see it as something to waste time with, it will be like social media and the internet and derail your work/life balance.
  • If you allow yourself to be intimidated or think of it as one more thing you must learn to use or can’t see the benefits, it won’t benefit you, which is a shame because it’s a huge opportunity to lighten your load. HUGE.

It’s a gift, a free virtual assistant, if you will. I’d encourage you to start thinking of it as your Superhero Sidekick. If you have superpowers in your life and business (and you do!), your sidekick is the one to bounce ideas off of, delegate to, and ask to do the dirty work.

So, start asking yourself the right questions:

  • How can this work for me?
  • What can AI take off my To-Do List that I never get to but weighs heavily on my mind and would advance my goals?
  • What do I repeatedly do that I’ve always meant to systematize?
  • What would I ask my VA to do if I had the budget to hire one?

Then, ask AI the right questions using the downloadable guide at the end of this post (which is going to Blow. Your. Mind. By. The. Way.).

Keep in mind that AI is conversational, not keyword-based. It can recognize patterns, relate to information you’ve shared, and learn over time. For example, as you engage with it, it adapts and makes more relevant suggestions. It’s dynamic and provides a personalized result to each user, so the better questions you ask, the better results you get.

And if you’re still feeling reluctant, it’s worth remembering that others will take advantage of this gift:

  • People less qualified than you will use AI to write better resumes and get the job.
  • People less experienced than you will use AI to sound like they know what they are talking about and land the client.
  • People less talented than you will use AI to build their businesses and make more money.

Some ethical gray areas are coming soon, so you need to move on this. Take advantage of the opportunity to try it and see how it can work for you.

And with that, here’s how to get started today:

Part 3: AI Resources and Prompts to Kickstart Your Journey

I recommend downloading the free versions of Chatgpt, Google Bard, and Microsoft’s AI (which I would tell you the name of, but I need clarification if there is a name or just a bunch of different versions).

ChatGPT is an AI-powered language model developed by OpenAI, capable of generating human-like text based on context and past conversations. It was the first on the scene and the most intuitive and conversational. When you explain what you do, who you do it for, and a brief bio about your business, it answers your questions and queries relative to what you’ve shared, which is enormously beneficial.

Google Bard and Copilot/Azure/Bing/Microsoft (whatever you call it) work similarly and have Big Data behind them, but they still need to be more useful. It’s hard to explain.

It may be that keywords have been drilled into us for a decade or two, so the AI-versions of the search engines don’t seem like automatic places to have a conversation, but the best results come from conversational tones, so try all three and see what you think.

For example, if I search on a search engine for “women who successfully balance family, work, and travel,” I get links to blogs, businesses, and news sources that contain those keywords. I have to sift through those results to see how it applies to why I asked the question in the first place. Then, I have to manually piece together the answers to what I’m looking for. It’s time-consuming and could be better.

Enter AI. But if I put the same phrase “women who successfully balance family, work, and travel” into Chatgpt, I get the excerpt shown below plus eight tips on how to do it:

Balancing family, work, and travel is a multifaceted challenge, but it’s certainly achievable. As a travel-obsessed life coach based in Colorado, you likely have valuable insights to offer your clients in this regard. Here are some tips and best practices for women looking to successfully balance these aspects of their lives.

As you can see, Chatgpt is starting to know me, what I do, and how I relate to my audience.

Further, if I ask a better, more complex question, I get a better, higher-quality answer. For example, instead of the phrase “women who successfully balance family, work, and travel,” I can ask, “What do women who successfully balance family, work, and travel do differently than women who struggle with it?”

Chatgpt replies with a very well-thought-out outline of nine differentiating factors.

I would never use this result word-for-word in my marketing or blog posts because it’s unethical (and isn’t redundant and unoriginal info the worst?!). Still, I can use the reply to inspire my creativity, boost my productivity, and kickstart my content process. It’s the ultimate cure for writer’s block.

And though I use Grammarly to write and Canva to create graphics and visuals, I can ask AI to improve what I’m working on by helping me make sure it’s clear, addresses the most salient points, or show me how to simplify it if I’m using too much industry jargon or coachy language.

See what I mean? Don’t think of AI as a crutch, and certainly don’t pass anything off as yours that you copied and pasted, but utilize it as a resource that makes you better at what you do because it will make you better at what you do!

Further, if you are awesome at what you do (and you are!) and you are able to relate complex ideas, and ask complex questions, the sky is the limit!

OK, I hope that answered your questions, addressed your concerns, and helped you feel less overwhelmed and more confident about jumping into the deep end of the pool.

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