Cross posted at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/your-work-life-balance-sucks-chris-fauerbach
Work–life balance is a concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation). This is related to the idea of lifestyle choice.
What does that mean?
- If you’re working more than 40 hours a week, you are bad at balancing your work and your non-work life. You should quit your job and work at Walmart where, if you read the same hype I do, you can’t work a solid 40!
- Only work 20 hours a week? Quit slacking! Balance work and life, but only up to 40 hours…..
Am I allowed to say “Just Kidding”, in a blog post? Seems too unprofessional… but JUST KIDDING!
Work life balance is a goal one has to strive for. If you work too much, your family and friends will feel neglected (ever put a family in “The Sims” into a room and removed the door? They feel neglected. If you don’t work enough, you won’t earn enough money, and your family will not eat, probably the same results as The Sims with a removed door.
In order to succeed, like most aspects of life, you need to be intentional about your work life balance. It can’t just magically happen and be good. Some of us tend to over work, some of us tend to under work. A lot of us are not good at being intentional about family time.
Think about your life as a whole: On your deathbed, would you regret spending too much time with family? or too much time at work? This is the ultimate target. In your life in its entirety, you need to have a focus on family. Leisure activities and memories are invaluable. Whether you die rich or poor, I can guarantee you won’t be thinking about how much money is in the bank when your’e dead. You’ll be thinking about the love and experiences you’ve had. The adage “Work to live, don’t live to work” is embodied here. Prioritize your life over your work, in the long run, and you will not have any regrets.
The balance changes at various stages of our life. Single and right out of college? Work hard during the day, have fun in the evenings and weekends! Have kids? Work your tail off during the day, go home and forget about work. Weekends…. family time. Kids older and out of the house? Crank up the work if you still need to. There are various ‘macro’ stages in your life and career. Sometimes work has the higher percentage, sometimes life has the higher percentage. Things change and are fluid. Heck, there are micro changes in life. In the software development profession, we have times when stuff breaks and we have to scramble to fix it. Project deadline coming up and we’re behind? Crap, time to work more. These are short sprints of extra work to meet a deliverable or to fix a mistake. It happens. It sucks. Family can get mad, but it’s short lived. Do NOT do that to yourself for a long time.
It’s no one’s fault but your own. This one gets me in trouble when I talk to ‘certain’ people. “My boss made me stay late again last night.” “Once the kids went to bed, I knocked out another few hours last night” “I worked all weekend to get my presentation ready for Monday”.
Those kill me, because I know that’s not how life is supposed to be. Again, once in a while happens, no big deal. There are tons of people who I work with who are habitual, and that’s all they do. You know the type. Burned out, unhappy and frankly, not really impressing anyone at work. If it takes you 70 hours a week to do a 40 hour job, you either haven’t learned how to say “No” (which is a learned skill, absolutely) or your time management stinks. Both of which are bad news and need to be worked on. The good news, is that both can be fixed!
You decide how much you work. No one else does. If you have a boss that ‘demands’ 60 hours for a traditionally 40 hour a week job, then those are unrealistic, and unsustainable demands. If you ‘phone it in’ after 35 hours for a traditionally 40 hour a week job, then pick it up. Hold your own and work for what you’re paid for.
Realize that work changes over time. Sometimes you have to prove yourself, work extra hard, meet a crunch deadline, etc. If your’e up every night and working on weekends for a traditionally 9-5, Mon-Friday job, then you may have a problem. Take some time and figure it out. It may take some uncomfortable conversations with your manager at the job, but, do it. Life is too short, and too important to de-prioritize it.