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Entries in work life balance (2)

Monday
Aug202012

Disconnecting

Having recently returned from my annual week-long vacation, I was struck by the diametrically opposed views on “disconnecting” during a vacation.

One side of the argument advocates a complete disconnect.  Don’t check email or take a phone call.  Your people need a break from you.  You’re not indispensable.

At the other extreme, you wouldn’t know someone was on vacation.  They are almost more engaged, perhaps fearing if they are “out of the loop” they’ll somehow lose their status or position.

On this vacation, my sense is I struck it about right.

My SmartPhone allowed me to read emails, and do triage on them.  For example, this is:

Type

Action

One time, FYI, no need for follow up

Delete

Simple Question

Quick Response

Detailed Question

Defer, or forward to someone else for action

Project effort

Save for return


Project efforts are the biggest thing I avoided.  One “vacation” I spent every day with my family, then every night writing job descriptions.  Looking back, it wasn’t that much of a vacation, and how important could those job descriptions have been?

Having had vacations where technology just didn’t work, I will acknowledge a greater feeling of rejuvenation. 

So in my mind, by keeping it light I was able to keep in the “flow” of what was happening, without weighing in on everything.  Exchange dutifully sent out of office messages for me, so it was clear to anyone I was off.  That said, mails were checked when convenient for me, I didn’t have a backlog of emails to go through….and walked in on Monday up to speed.

How do you balance it?

Wednesday
May022012

Searching for Work Life Balance

As a Dad, I always felt I screwed up work/life balance.

I read: “A great life balances work with family, serious with playful, adventure with serenity,” and think what a bunch of bull!

How about, “A great life balances work (and the resulting income) with the competing needs of the family and sleep?”  Having already said I’ve screwed this up, let’s dig in more.

I always strived to do the best I could for my family, and as a result forget about playful adventure and serenity.  Think instead about working multiple jobs, and trying to squeeze the most possible into family time.

A couple times in my career my job took me on the road.  I’m not a fan; I’d rather spend time with my family than be greeted by “Georgia” at the Ontario (California) Marriott.  My wife was always a good sport about the travel.  One time I had two weeks in a row at home and when tucking my son in he started crying.  I asked him why the tears.  “Dad, is everything ok?  You’re home.”

Well, I felt terrible, and left that job shortly after.

So what is it?

  • Working in IT, you come to expect working nights/weekends/holidays and get calls around the clock when there are upgrades or issues.  To this day, I study my BlackBerry lest I miss something “important,” fully realizing I’ll get a call if there is really something wrong.

  • Is it that I live in New England where the cost of living is higher?  I spent time in Louisiana, and will submit the people I met there place a higher regard for family. In fact, I often had the sense they wondered what was wrong with us “hearty” New Englanders.

When considering this and concluding it’s “just me,” I bump into someone else.  A young father and mother recently lamented the same thing.  Neither are in IT, and they are struggling to simply spend time together.  They both looked to me for sage advice, and I completely failed.  I’m the last person to ask!

I’ve joked with close friends for years I could readily live modestly (ok, I say a single wide on a large piece of land.)  What stops me from doing this?  My kids are grown, and out of the house.

Someone on Twitter asked my when I was going to retire, and I told them never.  I may be the guy with the orange Home Depot apron, or welcoming people to Wal-Mart, but I don’t see myself ever sitting on the rocking chair.

So…I still feel I’ve screwed it up….  I hope my kids understand I’m conflicted.

How do you keep your work life balance?