My company pushes attention to maintaining a life - work balance. While you're expected to put in eight hours of work, you need to take care of yourself. Sleep well, eat well and exercise. Have a social life. Celebrate living and enjoy hobbies. Spend time with your family and attend their needs. Live.
It's a nice concept but the execution is flawed. For one thing, most work problems aren't solved in one day or within the prescribed hours. Your mind takes work home with you even if you've logged out. I'm sure that it's a small matter compared to what a number of people face, which is more of a starvation - work balance, or housing - work balance, or medical - work balance, as our society pushes our ability to endure to the edge of profitability.
The converse happens as well. Problems at home, medical conditions and social issues don't vanish just because you've gone to work. Although the company likes to think everything can be compartmentalized, compartmentalizing thoughts and energy is difficult, more so because life is often running in parallel to work, not before and after work.
As an aspiring writer, another element is introduced. Like working students trying to pay for their tuition while taking courses, time must be made for that work load as well.
If work is 8 hours and life is 16, from the 16 comes two for writing. Fourteen hours remain for life. Then there is sleep, which gives little negotiating room, although we try negotiating with it. "If I go to bed now, I can get five to six hours of sleep, and I had almost seven last night, so I feel okay. Maybe I can slip in a short afternoon nap."
But work, while requiring 8 hours, is not nicely organized to accomodate this math. My employers note that you need an hour off for lunch so 9 hours is blocked off for work. So say I'll work from 6 AM to 3 PM, to cover my 9 hour nut. Meetings frequently are scheduled for earlier and later. Yesterday, the first meeting was at 6:30 AM and the last one ended at 6:30 PM. Although the company's reaction is to direct me to take time off to compensate and adjust my schedule, that isn't always convenient for the life/writing side. And while I 'take the time off', I'm watching the clock to be ready for the meeting.
Of course, my company is a business, with business hours, in theory. Part of the balance, though, is that all organizations that I need to utilize have that same theory of being open for a finite number of hours. So added into the life work balance is the need to run out to local state and government - like getting the car 'smogged' and the registration renewed - or getting a document from the county, necessitating a trip to another city. Shopping hours and gas station hours are often in parallel to work hours, yet you need to use those to get modern essentials like food, gasoline, beer, coffee and chocolate.
With all of this, my formula of work - life -writing is relatively simple. First, I'm not paid by the hour. Second, I work remotely and have much more latitude into how I divide my life - work - writing mashup. Third, my stage of life and luck has created a relatively healthy financial safety net.
I also don't have children. Children can complicate a life - work balance. Do does personal health, but I have good personal health. My parents, while alive, live far away and are in relatively good health and have no major financial or life issues facing them. Ditto with sisters, and my wife's family. However, my wife's health contributes to the work - life - writing balance.
The balance definitely becomes a mash up for me and many others as we define 'life', 'work', and priorities. It becomes key to plan and keep to plans. Yet plans go awry, putting everything off balance, so flexibility is needed. And if nature decides to do something wild in your area - forest fire, mud slide, tornado, flood, earthquake, hurricane, tsunami - than the life - work mashup gets much more intense.
Most of us adults in America - outside of like the top 2% of earners - seem to be dealing with these mashups. It's something to keep in mind and a challenge to accomplish, to recognize that when things go wrong in your mashup world, the people trying to help you are dealing with their own messed up mashup.
It's a mashed, mashed, mashed, mashed-up world.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com