Mobility and work-life balance
As a life-balancer I wonder how I am ever going to have downtime from working again. How do you have a life outside work without work intruding?
Nowadays people work at home, on leave, even on honeymoon. Pearls Before Swine nailed it:
When my son was born, I got a call when my wife was in the second day of protracted labour, with tubes hanging out of her, to ask if there was any way I could be at the annual sales conference...
Those who know me know I am a passionate life-balancer. Once upon a time I wore a suit, and when I wasn't wearing it I wasn't working - that was my rule.
But that balance faces its biggest challenge with smart devices. More precisely, I do some of my best work lying in bed: quiet, relaxed. I also do all my communications with the rest of the world while laying in bed. All you Yanks and Euros email me while I'm sleeping.
Back when I smoked cigarettes, I was never one of those people who wake up and fumble around in the dark for the packet. But I often wake up and fumble about for my Droid, sometimes in the middle of the night if I can't sleep.
What does that mean for maintaining balance?
On the upside, I get up knowing half my emails have been done, this blog has been checked, tweets scanned, news read. The remaining emails are important - a smartphone is a pathetic platform for trying to do any complex work - but at least I get rid of all the crap before breakfast, and know what is left. I can usually have a leisurely breakfast.
On the downside there's no clear-cut delineation. I can be found working at any time 24x7. I suspect I work 70-80 hours a week, though I don't know. There are few true holidays. (I go to the mountains once or twice a year where there is zero communication with the outside world except walking back out. It is only a matter of time before 3G/4G mobile phone coverage comes to that valley...)
There's no big on/off switch any more, no work suit. Some evil genius worked this out when they introduced "business casual".
Of course it is worse for me because I'm my own boss. My boss is a bastard, the worst I ever had. But that only makes the problem worse for me, not different.
How do you keep room in your life for something other than work? Do you?
(I know Americans and Japanese may be puzzled by the question)