To Balance Work and Life

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Although his advice comes from an academic perspective, Matt Might explicitly and successfully writes for a general audience on the subject of balancing professional and personal obligations (a.k.a. "work-life balance"). His conclusion is as follows:

Continuously adapt

Realize you won't always strike the right balance.

You will make mistakes.

That's okay.

Listen to your partner and if they're not satisfied, take action. Move the boundaries; change your habits; or reduce your workload.

Recognize that achieving work-life balance is a never-ending process.

Don't treat the balance in "work-life balance" like a noun.

Treat it like a verb.
This last line caused me to think of a tightrope walker using a balance beam by continously making needed changes to its position. In addition to being memorable, this image fits quite well with Might's advice, which not only stresses that continual adjustments are crucial, but also how to make them. His tips on boundary-setting are exemplary:
Avoid over-commitment

It takes a few minutes to entangle yourself in commitments that can take years to unwind.

Learn when and how to say "no."

If you're over-committed, say, "I'd really like to take on that task/role, but I'm concerned that with my current commitments, I might not be able to perform the this task to the high standards to which I hold myself."

Before you say "yes" to anything, sleep on it.

If you find yourself over-committed, start delegating, canceling, recusing and refusing.
Experience has shown me the value of not becoming over-committed. In addition to it being difficult to extricate oneself from some of the excess obligations, it potentially makes one look bad. Many of the people who already know how to avoid doing this don't necessarily appreciate that some people have difficulty learning that skill.

-- CAV


Steve D said...

One thing I'd like to add to his list:


It works in science and it works in life.

Gus Van Horn said...

True, and as part of experimentation, there's being open to serendipity. (As an example, my playing around with a new way to organize things may have solved a long-standing blogging problem for me: inflexible editors that are also at the mercy of proprietary caprice.)