The class room discussion on work-life balance intrigued me greatly. I couldn’t help but speak about it to many of my friends and has opened up so many questions in my mind. I’d like to share them here and would be happy to discuss your views on this.
I’ve met several people of the two institutions of thought: one who work all day and accomplish, the other who balance life very well. Some questions that came to my mind is, how is it possible that one group accomplishes the same but are not workaholic? how do some have no time for family? how much of success is success? what is success? what is the “life” in work-life balance? when do I know I’m balancing it well? Is there a reference to this? At what point do I stop or should I ever stop working? Is this a life long struggle? Is it a struggle in the first place?
My mind was exploding with these questions and I began exploring one by one, spoke to so many friends, read so many blog posts online and psychology today to understand this. I still couldn’t find a very satisfying answer though that answers all my questions but I have gotten some understanding. One of the key qualities among people who are “successful” is that, they speak of time and deal with time as if it were a tangible resource. They know exactly of how much to spend on what and that is how they get things done. But the “how much time to spend” raises the question of skill. Some get done with task A in one hour and some in two – it depends on how well one is good in the work. If one can learn to work in the smartest way possible optimizing their working strategy, I feel there will be no comparison based on how many hours someone has worked. And to stop comparison, we need to define what success is in the first place. If my success for today is completing tasks X,Y,Z, spending some quality time with family, going for a run, watching a good movie and if I am able to get through all of these seamlessly, I guess, that is perfect work-life balance and this eliminates the concept of boasting about the number of hours we work. I strongly feel that it is futile to put in 100 hours for what can be done in less than 50 and wearing the 100 hours as a “badge of honor”. What matters is the accomplishment that we define for ourselves.
We have classified our time into “work” and “life” and try our best to balance both. But, what exactly is life? How do we define it? Can we quantify it? In my perspective, life is that which gives one true fulfillment. It is definitely not the same for some. For a person X, probably playing soccer for an hour is more satisfying than spending time at the park. For another, spending time over the phone to speak to a friend or maybe spend time with family is more satisfying. For another, probably working in the lab is more satisfying than socializing – now this is purely subjective and I think it is unfair to put everyone in the same basket and assert that Person A does not have a life, Person B works all day, Person C is happy. This is something we really don’t know and I feel it is best to leave it to one’s own judgement as to what suits him or her best.
According to you, when do you think you have reached a balance? I’d really like to hear your views!