Seems like many weekends since I moved into my new place, I’ve told friends “sorry, I can’t come out and play, I have to work.” At the end of each weekend I think to myself, “ahhh, well at least next week I’ll be able to play.” But then the next weekend comes around and I find myself in the same situation. For a long time, I’ve been comfortable with this approach. But recently it’s started becoming much less acceptable. So the question of the day is, “Am I not working hard enough when I’m at work, or do I have too many things on my plate?”
What occurs to me is that if I put strict time constraints on my work hours, this answer could quickly become apparent. If I find myself falling behind, and re-double my efforts to be effective during the day, and yet still keep falling behind, it’s likely that I have too many things on my plate. I can delegate some of my tasks, that shouldn’t be a problem. But I realize that by being willing to sacrifice my weekends, I don’t put that constraint on my work time, and I don’t force myself to be as effective at work as I might be otherwise. That means it is also less clear if I need to delegate any of my work due to being overloaded. My willingness to let work spread into other areas of my life means that I’m unable to tell. It makes sense that this would make me an unhappy Mark.
Granted, developer relations is a task that doesn’t always stick to the 9-to-7: lunches, dinners, weekend meetings, etc, are the norm. But I consider those events more as a fun opportunity to meet up with some cool people for a chat. So that doesn’t really work into the equation.
Therefore, this week’s rumination will be: What happens when I stick to a work schedule?
Working from home
7 responses to “Working from home”
I predict that you will start looking at furniture catalogs and throwing out old stuff.
And maybe you will have a bunch of people over for dinner and games!
I’ve had to have this same think a number of times over the past year. Having kids is a forcing function for facing the issue.
I haven’t gotten much better at it, but I at least am concious of when I’m being sub-optimal in my use of time at the office. I really admire people that can be “on” for 8hrs straight. No web surfing (or blog surfing!), no coffee-stand/water-cooler chats, just efficiency and execution.
Anyhoo! Back to work for me!
i think everyone runs into this occasionally. i hit the wall at ion storm where i just decided “i will work 40 hour weeks, and i will go to yoga in the middle of the day as my lunch break, and i will not come in on the weekends, and that’s that” and honestly employers are sometimes not as supportive as they could be about that kind of thing (i had to make exceptions to my rigor on a regular basis) but just exerting the effort does a lot of good.
i think it’s not something you ever just *solve*; it’s always an effort to maintain that balance.
here i would draw the analogy to actual physical balance, which allows me to segue into a discussion about yoga, which is really my goal anytime i write or talk about anything with anyone.
i always used to think that people who had really good balance, who could do the balance poses and look serene and perfectly still, i thought those people just found the right spot and stayed there. then, as i practiced more and more, i realized that balance is always this ongoing twitching of little muscles pushing you to and fro, but never far enough to push you over. and becoming better at balance is all about achieving subtlety in that muscular work, where instead of lurching around like the recently reanimated, you make minute, imperceptible corrections to keep yourself upright.
so maybe over time the balance issue of keeping work and life separate becomes more subtle and takes less perceptible work, but it will never just happen without thought.
i hope your week of exploration goes really well and you feel much more calm and — haha! — balanced.
and then you can make it a year of exploration. or a lifetime!
Thanks for your comments! I feel like I’ve been working too hard since shortly after the original Gems book was completed; my personal goal with Gems was to see what I could accomplish if I completely dedicated myself to one task. It worked pretty well… the book did well, we’re finishing up Gems5, and I ended up breaking up with my girlfriend of the time. Hahaaahhah 🙂
I’m going to try hard to do what Robin said… maybe if I pretend that making my living space comfortable is actually work, I’ll do it. 😉 I don’t think I’ll go have kids though. At least not right away, Kim. 🙂
I would like to rediscover that place where I think of work as something I’m choosing to do, not something which I have to do. I could go to work looking forward to the challenges that await me – that would be a pleasant change.
What you said Brian, that’s what I’m trying to do – 40 hours, with a workout in the middle of the day. Also, zeroing out the inbox at the end of each week regardless of how long that takes. It’s definitely a challenge.
I like what you say about balance. In yoga, I imagine that with practice you gradually become able to distinguish when you need to twitch the little muscles. In life, distinguishing when you need to make small course corrections can be quite challenging, I think. It usually takes something substantial for me to notice when I need to make a change, and even when I do notice I’m not always sure what to do about it.
One of the pieces of advice that I took away from my Landmark experience was “being a stand” for something. Boiled down, this means continuing to do a thing or a be a thing even if you’ve temporarily failed. So, if I’m a stand for my own health and fitness, I’ll do what it takes to get healthy and fit, and not let myself stop myself from accomplishing that. If I “fall off the wagon” by not going to the gym for a few days, I won’t beat myself up over it – instead I’ll remember my stand and get back to the gym. At least, that’s the idea. I’m probably actually abusing the terminology, but for me the takeaway was really not to quit. When I find the need for a major course correction, even if I do make that correction my normal way of being is to stick with it for awhile and then go back to the previous state. This necessitates major course corrections again later on. Sticking to what I say I value is an interesting exercise, and for me, a key lesson. I’m very good at letting myself get distracted by the wind. It’s something I always have to keep in mind.
Thanks for your comments! 🙂
Workout in the middle of the day? no no no!
A while back I started moving my workout to early mornings before work. Getting up at 5am SUCKS, but if you can get past the “I don wanna!” feeling, you feel awesome and are so productive at work.
Besides, lunch is for pedantic graphics/programming/gaming arguements and for really fatty foods to negate the workout.
Good train of thought with the ‘stand’ discussion. Kind of along the lines of “getting back to basics” or “getting back on course” in a way. I recently asked myself the following question: “Is my involvement in gaming the vehicle by which I have impact at Intel, or is Intel the vehicle with which I try to have impact within the gaming industry”. Writing that down made me put a lot of things in perspective. Hmm… Oh well. Food for thought.
You, and probably most of your friends in this business can’t stick to a “strict” work schedule because what we choose to work at is also a big part of our who we are. I have worked out fo my home for the past 4 years for Sun and find that some work related activity is always present. However, being on the east coast, you punks wake up a good 3 hours after I do, so I generally have some good quality time in walking my kids to the bus stop, grabbing some coffee with my wife and taking short walk and easing into the day. The flip side is that 6:00pm for you is 9:00pm for me and I get the evil eye once in a while when answering an e-mail or 2 in the evening. But overall, we love the work we do because of the impact we can have on an industry we care about.
You make an interesting point of course, Chris. If I didn’t care so much, I’d work less. But if I didn’t care so much, why would I keep doing what I’m doing?
But as I’m sure you can relate to, caring too much for too long a period of time can eventually be overwhelming, especially if the areas you’re focused on aren’t progressing as you wish they would.
We each have to find our own personal balance to prevent that from happening. How much can you give, how long can you give, and not run out of the ability to give?
Each person has to find that answer for themself; you can’t learn it from a book, or from another. And that’s the hard part. 🙂
But I suppose if it wasn’t hard, we’d be bored. 🙂