While I’m on my self-improvement professional-development kick, I wanted to talk about the work-life balance question. I’ll begin, of course, with the answer.
The balance between work and life is completely up to you.
Start by deciding on your goals. Are you in a growth phase of your career? This tips the balance. Is it really important to you to spend time with your family? This tips the balance. But don’t let the balance get decided for you. Decide what you want. Once you know your goals, then apply your MMORPG gamer skills. Let’s start with some min-maxing!
I work a lot… just ask Emi! But I don’t work 7 days a week, 16 hours a day. That way lies madness. Why? Think of it this way… if advancement is your objective (it sure is for me), you need to contribute unique value. Working more hours is not a unique value — anybody who wishes to slice time out of the “life” side of the equation can match, and probably exceed, you. Working MORE isn’t going to set you apart… but working SMART just might. At the end of the day, productivity is a better goal than activity. Work hard enough to achieve your goals, but keep yourself sane, because burnout can be a one-way street.
Want to hack your effectiveness? Don’t neglect your health. You don’t have to become a fitness-obsessed two-hour-a-day gym fiend, either. Think before you eat — do I really want chips? Am I actually hungry, or just bored? Maybe you could purchase some snacks and bring them to work — I keep almonds at my desk, for instance. And exercise doesn’t have to mean costly gym memberships or tons of equipment. Picking up some lunch? Try walking there instead of driving! A couple of small optimizations around your health can lead to some surprising gains in energy and focus. Carving out 30-60 minutes in a day often ends up SAVING me time.
Emi was feeling pretty dejected because my hours are a lot longer than they used to be, and I carpool with a coworker, leaving her not only at home but car-less half the time. She came up with a great solution — at least once a week, we spend the extra gas and time to have her drop me off at work and pick me up. It doesn’t sound like much, but that’s an extra hour and a half to talk. Find time for the things that are important — it’s out there.