One thing at a time

17/08/2012 § Leave a comment

I went swimming with Lucas yesterday. He is on holiday and I am not, but I wanted to make time to hang out with him.

I find it a constant challenge to decide how much time to spend with the family, and how much on work. This is particularly challenging because I work from home and my office is never more than 15 yards away. It was a lot clearer 20 years ago when I was an employee in an office 30 minutes from home. When I was in the office, I was (mostly) working and when I was at home I wasn’t. Of course the dividing line is never quite so clear but broadly this was the case. These days, with e-mails and mobiles, it is more complicated.

I don’t like the phrase work/life balance because work is an integral part of life. For me it makes as much sense as saying sleep/life balance or breathing/life balance. Worse, it encourages us to continue the psychotic behaviour where we behave differently at work than we do at home. Most major problems we face as a species would vanish were we to act in the same way at work as at home. It is called integrity.

Having said that, boundaries are really important. If I blur too much the boundary between work and family life I will end up answering the phone while putting Lucas to bed, sending e-mails while having lunch or solving complex problems while chatting with Dasha (and she’s pretty good at spotting me when I do this!).  This is no good for family life and no good for me. Whatever I do I want to do it wholeheartedly, with full attention. If am walking in the forest, I’m walking in the forest. If I’m shaving, I’m shaving. If I am on a Skype call with someone, I am not checking my e-mails or the cricket score at the same time.

Perhaps surprisingly, I find that making time to be with Lucas properly frees me up to work better. And working better allows me to enjoy my time with Lucas and Dasha more – there’s no feeling that I should be somewhere else, doing something else. A virtuous circle. Life is so simple, so easy really. Oh why do we complicate it?

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