The concept of balancing work commitments and life or family commitments has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially as more women have entered the workplace.

As the gender traditionally responsible for meeting the primary obligations of "family," women sometimes feel that this work/life concept is unfairly levied against them.

Some women feel that the question of work-life balance has become so gendered; the question of how to balance these things are often asked of women, and less often asked of men.

But the truth is that all workers must find a way to meet the needs of both their employer and their lives outside of work. The sooner employers realize that happy workers are better workers, the sooner American employees will become more productive and less stressed, creating better work.

More organizations are realizing that pushing employees to work until they drop doesn't actually improve performance. More managers are keeping a 40 hour work week, outside of major projects, and expecting their employees to do the same.

If you need to convince your company that work-life balance is crucial, here are four professional athletes who strongly agree that it's impossible to focus on work all the time:

1. Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt is generally agreed to be one of the fastest runners on the planet, but he also inspires fans with his playful and fun-loving attitude towards his athletic performance. During the 2016 Olympics, a mid-race photograph captured Bolt grinning at the camera as he easily outpaced the other runners.

On the interview circuit, Bolt was frequently asked how he manages to have so much fun while he was working so hard, and his responses made it very clear that work and play were intricately linked for him. He absolutely loves what he's doing, so enjoying it is easy.

What you can learn: Work is hard, and that's okay, but every day at work shouldn't be a slog. You should find joy in what you're doing, the product you're creating, or the process of making it as good as it can be.

If you have no joy in what you're doing, it's time to re-evaluate your career.

2. Stephen Curry

In May 2015, Golden State Warriors basketball player Stephen Curry made waves when his two-year-old daughter joined him for post-game interviews. Riley was at the game with her mother and was eager to see her dad, so when she ran to him as he sat down before the microphones, he made space for her.

He faced both praise and criticism for these decisions, which he cheerfully ignored. He seemed delighted that his daughter wanted to spend time with her daddy.

What you can learn: When you wonder whether or not you should take time off work to be with your family, the answer is nearly always yes.

Your business is important, and your salary might support your family, but without your family, it's worth wondering what you're doing all this work for.

3. Meb Keflezighi

Olympic runner Meb Keflezighi has remained a competitive runner well into his 40s. When he won the Boston Marathon in 2013, he became the oldest man to do so since 1931. He was 38 years old.

Keflezighi's advice is to work as hard on your recovery as you do on your workouts. Amateur athletes sometimes try to cheat on recovery days, figuring that getting in a little of this or a little of that won't harm their recovery much.

But when you're pushing your body to the limits, it needs time to recover, or you will injure yourself, and set your progress back that much further.

What you can learn: When you're away from work, be away from work. Shut your phone off, close your laptop, put down the book about business theory or economic policy. When you're at work, devote your time and attention to your job.

When you're home, be home.

3. Jesse Thomas

Along with his career as a professional triathlete, Jesse Thomas is also the CEO of a snack company called Picky Bars. He regularly fields questions about whether he would prefer to train all the time. No, Thomas says.

While training is incredibly important to Thomas, it's also important to get time away from his work. Training is important, but his company is also important, in a very different way. It uses different parts of his attention, and lets him regain focus.

What you can learn: Don't let work become your entire focus. Make sure that you're finding other things about which you are passionate, and participating in them fully.

They can be connected to your business--perhaps mentoring someone in a skill you've become an expert at--but they should be apart from your work.

Published on: Sep 26, 2016