Career email life Organization

Balancing, Integrating

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I bought my laptop home with me for the long weekend. I was writing code at 9pm on Wednesday night. Last week, I worked Sunday night.

Sounds like I have a work-life integration problem, right?

I used to have these strict rules – laptop stays at the office. No work at the weekends. I drew lines around my day, theorizing that if I had a full evening and couldn’t work, I would have a real break.

I didn’t used to have my work email on my cell phone. Now I do – one of them even beeps when it arrives. I turned it on because I spent a day in transit and another at TEDx and wanted to be semi-available. I didn’t get round to turning it off, and mostly just keep it on silent. It’s not the problem I imagined it would be.

When I arrived in KW, I didn’t know that many people and was in a relationship with someone who worked at the same place. Since we broke up, and I’ve been finding different things to do with my evenings (even if that is often hanging out on the cross-trainer watching Drop Dead Diva – Amazon). Maybe I needed those rules, as I got over grad school and the constant guilt. When, frankly, I didn’t have as much else to do.

But now it’s a different story. And, I worked Sunday night because Friday afternoon I took off to do someone a favor – the timing worked well, I got a jump on Monday. Sure, I was working late on Wednesday but I left the office, worked out with my trainer, had a nice walk in the sunshine to pick up some dinner, and then came back to it as my colleagues in Australia arrived for the day, which meant I could sync up with them. And sometimes things are easier to do without interruptions – so after everyone else has gone home!

At any time, I could turn email off on my phone. But mostly I just don’t bother to look at it. I could return my laptop to the office, it’s just a couple of minutes away anyway. The symbolic separation was only ever that, and I don’t feel like I need it anymore. Besides, I travel for work. A lot. It’s pointless to pretend that doesn’t impact my life – it does. In positive ways, because I experience new things and see cool places, but in negative ones too. It’s hard, sometimes, but it’s a choice – so clearly I think it’s worth it. I just forget that when I’ve spent 8 hours in San Francisco airport waiting.

I read an article with Marissa Mayer and one of the things she mentions is that burnout happens when you miss the things that are important to you. The thing that if you miss it, it ruins your week. I’m not completely sold on this theory, or perhaps it’s just for me a week with no down-time would be a stressful and miserable experience. But I see the point – I didn’t lose out on anything by working a couple of extra hours on Wednesday night, I felt good about what I got done and enjoyed my chat with the Australian. And it was a free choice – perhaps that is the most important thing. I didn’t have to.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is, my work and life are a little more blended than they used to be, and I’m OK with this new way.

2 replies on “Balancing, Integrating”

 Hi Cate,

I have recently started reading your blog.Thanks for the article.It was interesting.
I occasionally deal with work-life integration problems as well.
The sort where I feel the need to keep up with the latest technologies.
Usually, I land up working on the technical development over the weekend.
How do you deal with keeping up?

I’m OK when I don’t 🙂 Focus on knowing lots of things broadly, so that I can make connections and deep-dive as necessary. Also, knowing what other people are interested in/good at, so if I don’t know I know who to ask.

Twitter I find really helpful for staying tuned into what is going on, without getting too much detail. I find the short form makes it perfect for compile-time as it doesn’t distract me the way a longer article would.

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