Published on July 18, 2022 • 5 minutes to read
This week I saw a couple of Twitter threads (an example of 1 of them, PS is in Spanish) that made me think about my work-life prioritization and what’s the balance I have been pursuing, and why. I reached the apex of this thought when I received a newsletter about the same topic which inspired me to write today’s post.
First, let me tell you how I pictured work-life balance, my belief was to have a healthy one, you should avoid speaking of your work-life outside of work and your events during work. This behavior limited me because I could only emphasize with the team members I spoke with about my personal life, which took me a while to be open about it, to be honest.
So once I understood that talking about both was ok and that I enjoyed speaking about them, this made me healthily re-think my friendships. I started to understand that most of the friends I have were like my old self version, trying to separate things out and never speaking out loud about them, which made me question one thing, do we have a work-life balance? Did we hate what we do? Do we just do it because we have to and there’s no enjoyment in it?
I can’t speak about others, but I can speak about myself, I honestly enjoy what I do and strive to be better each day by at least 0.01%, which means I like to talk about my work and I do not define myself as my work, but what I do is part of who I am and since I spend at least 40 hours a week doing it, it is a considerable size of what influences my personality, my feelings, mood, etc.
Like that newsletter I linked, I was guilty of oversimplifying “work” as a necessary evil, because the value of it changes depending on who you ask, and people will judge you because of your choices, and we tend to listen a lot to those outside opinions instead of listening to our inner voice.
There’s nothing inherently wrong about not liking your job, this is something I would love most people to understand, you can view work as an obligation where you sacrifice ours for money and that’s fine, it’s like debating what’s best, pizza or burgers. What’s important here is understanding that your opinion about these topics will influence how you feel about your life.
My views as a manager
As a person whose job is making people become the best version of themselves, I believe it’s important to understand who these people are at their core and what motivates them to help them achieve their dreams.
My views as a manager on this topic could be considered controversial because most of the people I have known during my career will want to maximize the throughput of their workers while I would like to maximize their happiness in the environment they decided to spend their time at.
The likelihood of being successful in your professional life is determined by your ability to put in enough investments early in your career. You’ll earn a positive balance by working hard and learning early. What I have noticed is that most people my age want to achieve success almost overnight (I’m exaggerating the overnight part, but literally <1 year during their professional journey).
There’s a saying that the easiest way to increase your salary is to hop from company to company each year, and I believe this has been a compromise most people my age are taking because they see the money as the end goal and do not prioritize investing on their careers per se.
Being overly focused on one topic, money, especially when you are just getting started will limit the outcomes your life may take because you have compromised on your work-life balance.
Now, most people will call you successful because you are making lots of money, and if this is your version of “success” I’m not one to judge.
But you know it, I will give you my version of success and I hope the people out there that identify with it might nod their heads and give themselves time to appreciate their accomplishments.
There’s no textbook definition for what’s the best work-life balance and any book that assures you has the answers is lying to you, the optimal level is whatever is aligned with your goals, and having a balance is a framework you create to know how to achieve things, but not your lifestyle, it’s not a magic number that will solve everything, it’s a moving number that will help you in your journey on understanding how to do what you want to do.
It doesn’t matter how many hours you put into your work or hobbies, what matter is whether or not you are putting the effort to do what you want.
Tips that work for me
In no particular order.
- Monotasking, I was a heavy multitasker or so I believed I was, the actual reality is that I liked the focus and even though I was a very productive person because of it, my work lacked quality, as a developer I learned that my craft is more important than my throughput and than following productivity numbers as an outcome was detrimental to my career development. So focus on one thing and make it good.
- Be proud at 5 pm (or whenever you end your day at work). No matter how small it is, celebrate your accomplishments each day, whether you made someone else’s life better or you created something, be proud of it.
- Give yourself a break. How often have you gone to grab a cup of coffee with a co-worker and made a conversation about work with them? These aren’t real breaks, these are falling into the multitasking trap, believing you can do more by spreading your attention on a topic in a different environment. Resting is important and small breaks help you out clearing up your mind.