I’ve always had a problem with the concept or work life balance. It’s a logical contradiction, because Life is a class which has the sub-categories of work, rest and play and all the other things that fit into a life. Yep, people call me a pedant sometimes.
Nevertheless it’s a hot topic, and has been ever since we started making the distinction between work and life. Interestingly, this seems to have started in the ’70s when the number of women in the workplace was increasing rapidly. Apparently, before that, men didn’t notice there was a distinction, or care if there was one!
There are still many people today (men and women), who aren’t bothered by that distinction. And if it doesn’t bother you, I guess your work-life balance is …err… balanced. As long as your friends and family accept that as well.
Uh huh, just let me finish this important email
So that leaves the rest of us, who feel a conflict, some of the time. I experience it as tug-of-war for my attention, and it happens in real-time, as a choice. My epiphany came 13 years ago, when I realised that my two kids, who were 5 and 7, only needed one thing from me. My attention – now. Not the “uh huh, just let me finish this important email” kind of attention, but a fully present human being, during the time I was with them. For my part, I realised that time was not unlimited, was irretrievable, and that days quickly turn into years. Now they’re 17 and 19 and we’ve had some really, really good times together. I have to admit that, now, I’m on the receiving end of “uh huh, let me just finish this really important Facebook status update/Twitter “, but I don’t need their attention, so that’s OK with me. I guess.
Eventually, if you add the slices together, you’ve got yourself a life
The other time demands that hit us in work and in life are a series of micro-decisions and choices about what we’re going put our attention, for that particular slice of time. Eventually, if you add the slices together, you’ve got yourself a life. which you either live consciously, by actually making a decision, and asking “is this the best use of my time?”. Or not.
Otherwise you’re just passing the time.