Sunday, May 06, 2007

The New Work-Life Balance - Think Choices

Here's a recent conversation at a meeting during work.
Comment: My husband asked me if everyone works 14 hours per day at our company.
Response: Only if they are slackers.
Everyone laughs.

In the old days, work and personal life were mostly separated. One could have a professional life and a personal life. Today, the term work-life balance is an oxymoron, a non sequitur, and a misnomer. Today, the overlap is tremendous. With e-mail, blackberries, laptops and globalization, there is no longer separation and much less balance. Vacations are often working vacations and about a third of workers do not take all their time off. A recent article, 'Getting Away From It All' Going Out of Style?, discusses this exact phenomena.

In addition, we've stretch both sides of the clock and week to get an edge. It used to be career books recommended coming in 45 minutes early to have an advantage at work. If only it were that easy:-) For me, the norm had become arrive 2 hours early, work through lunch, stay 2 hours late, do global conference calls from home, check e-mail at night to get a jump on international correspondence, and work about 8 hours on the weekend. At the same time, we have been downsizing and taking on more work.

With the addition of our daughter, I have decided that I needed a different work-life balance. However, I have learned there really isn't a balance. Balance implies that I can have both at the level and quality to I want. There is no longer balance, just choices, about how I spend the 168 hours per week that I have.

Choice means trade offs. More time at the at the office, means less quality time with family. More quality time with family, means less time at work. If someone has figured out how to have more quality time with the family AND more time at work, I will be all ears:-)

For more on New Beginnings, check back every Sunday for a new segment.

Photo Credit:, David Ellis

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2007 Achievement Catalyst, LLC


Dimes said...

Why not enlist the family's help at the office? A 2-year-old can sharpen pencils and by the time she's 5 you can teach her how to take notes at international conference calls.

If wives accompanied their spouses on deployments and terms of service in Iraq, we'd have a much happier and more effective military.

traineeinvestor said...

I could not agree more with your post. "Work life balance" has no meaning anymore. If there is an answer, I have no idea what it is. Clearly there is a price to be paid for living and working in these sorts of environments.

One of my approaches is to absolutely brutal about what internal commitments I take on and being very ruthless about some of my family commitments. This year I have decided to push a bit harder in terms of freeing up space for some personal time. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

As an example, I have effectively been missing departmental and office meetings for about two years now (even though I am supposed to attend). This frees up a couple of mornings a month. There are other things I do as well. Unfortunately, they do not always get me very far as people just full up my diary with other things. I should put some of these ideas into a post.

Super Saver said...


I like the idea. Who knows, sharpening pencils could lead to working in a family business :-)

Trainee Investor,

My calendar also gets managed by others :-( Good luck with managing your time.