This is a roundup of recent writing on work-life balance, brought to you by Monday Morning Manager writer Harvey Schachter.
And on the seventh day, rest
Instead of fussing over work-life balance, Christy Tennant Krispin believes you should focus instead on your work-rest ratio.
The Seattle-based communications consultant says on the High Calling blog that her life can’t be neatly divided into work and life. “I love my work and usually derive a great deal of enjoyment from it, and sometimes my work allows me to do things that would usually be placed on the ‘life’ side – surfing, for example. Likewise, even when I am engaging in something that would be labelled ‘life,’ I am still, sometimes, working. On my recent anniversary weekend getaway with my husband, for example, I stayed in bed after breakfast reading commentaries in preparation for a sermon I am preaching this month. He researched properties in the Vancouver neighbourhood where we were staying, ever the curious real estate developer,” she writes.
Work and life are interwoven. At the same time, she believes that we were not created to work non-stop. The Biblical story of creation suggests a work-to-rest ratio of six to one, after all. “How many of us spend one day a week at rest?” she asks. So consider giving yourself a day a week (or more) to rest well: No chores, no checklists and no errands. No quick checks of something from work. Just life-nourishing rest and relaxation.
Put your seat in the laid-back position
Many of us view airplane travel as a chance to get in extra work. But not Evernote chief executive officer Phil Libin. He doesn’t work on airplanes.
The app developer told Lifehacker.com that he sleeps, plays Minecraft, reads non-work material, watches movies, and daydreams. It may seem wasteful, but the word he has for it is “awesome.” He feels it makes him more productive in the long run. It also gets him looking forward to, instead of dreading, long flights.
Schedule some downtime
Career coach Jon Milligan urges you to create downtime in your daily schedule to encourage a more balanced, less stressful life. For him, he advises on JonMilligan.com, it’s 6 to 9 p.m. He makes it a point to go outside, ride his bike with his kids, throw a football, explore in the woods, or simply sit on the front porch swing.
Family comes first
Asked to talk to his firm’s senior management recently on what is his biggest motivation to come to work each day, new father Kelvin Ang reflected on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. But as a blogger who has tried to reach out to other Singaporean fathers, it was inevitable that Mr. Ang’s thoughts turned to his role as a father seeking work-life balance. Here’s some of what he reports on his blog, saying:
“Personally, I feel there is no point if I have worked hard for all my life achieving the status I want in work but at the expense of the family. Because truthfully, I think no one in their deathbed will say, I wish I spent more effort in my work or I wished I have spent more time in the office. And to quote a phase that I have once read before, ‘family is not an important thing, it is everything.’
“Having said that, my biggest motivation for coming to work each day is to face the challenges I have. I thrive on challenges and they get me really energized. And every time I overcome some difficulties, I have a strong feeling of satisfaction and that leads me to look for another new challenge. That is also why I have taken up so many projects concurrently. I think I belong to the new generation of men that understands that there are tradeoffs for career goals, but career versus family is not a tradeoff. I want both and that is a big challenge by itself.
“I think this challenge is what people call the elusive work-life balance.”
In praise of active hobbies
Hobbies are a common form of rest and relaxation. They allow us to switch off for a while and savour some “me” time. But on the Good Relaxation.com site, insurance executive Marc Loud notes that hobbies can fall into two categories. You may want to ponder the difference as it applies to your life.
The first are active hobbies, anything from swimming and surfing to riding a motorcycle or going to the gym. Passive hobbies might be collecting things or genealogy – far less vigorous pursuits, although a collector of porcelain figurines may have to track down items.
“While watching TV could be regarded as a relaxing hobby, it doesn’t have the same effect as a more challenging activity has, and it certainly doesn’t tax you physically or mentally. The physical aspect of a hobby has been shown in numerous studies to be extremely important to our well-being, and is key in the release of the feel-good hormone endorphin. This brings stress levels down to more normal levels and gives the body a chance to repair some of the damage that prolonged exposure to stress can cause,” he writes.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Harvey Schachter is a Battersea, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online work-life column Balance. E-mail Harvey Schachter