Work Life Balance

Tracy Roesler bio photo By Tracy Roesler Comment

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It’s interesting to me how everybody seems to want to be discussing the “work-life” balance in America right now. Everybody wants to discuss how we should be better balancing our personal lives with our work lives. There are even infographics about it!

Millennials Desire Better Work-Life Balance

It’s not just millennials who are having this problem. Everybody is discussing the elusive balancing act.

The CEO and founder of Glassdoor believes “[a] balance between family, personal, and work time is mostly an act of will. You have to choose to do that” (How Did I get Here). I don’t disagree with him, because in the world of inter-connectedness, you do have to force yourself from impulsively checking email a thousand times a day. But the answer isn’t always that simple either. Sometimes you HAVE to work more than you would like, and things come up for which you just can’t will yourself home.

Forbes has some suggestions, which I think can be leveraged. I’ll save you the direct quotation of the entire article, but the ones I think are most important are to unplug, and take small steps. It’s really difficult to go cold turkey balancing your work life and your personal life. Plus phone withdrawal is a real thing. So start small. Leave your phone alone for an hour a day.

One of the things I find most ironic about the “work/life balance” movement, is simply how many hours people have historically worked. The concept of 40 hour work week didn’t really come into play until the 1950s; we’re working much less than we did 100 years ago (cf. Hours of work in US history). So what’s changed that we now feel the need to set aside our personal life?

I believe changes in technology have made it almost impossible to disconnect. It’s allowed our work life to permeate into our personal life. I think the search for a work-life balance has made work-life balance worse though, and so do others. Don Campbell believes it’s a “myth”; balance in an illusion, and work is just one component of life. I don’t wholly agree with him.

I think the work-life balance looks different for every person. I have some co-workers that work 60 hours a week, and love it. I have others that work only 40, and enjoy that. Then you have others in tech that work somewhere in between or more, and are somewhere on the spectrum of happy-ambivalent-miserable. I call those people IT Operations.

The key is to make the most of your down time when you do have it. Try and create a demarcation line between office work and your personal life, and try to stick to it. I’m putting down my computer now, and backing slowly away…

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