I have given some thought to the idea of work/life balance, recently. I’ve got a ton of projects going on at work right now, and I’m just not into it. I put in the effort required to finish the project, but I want nothing to do with it, if I’m being honest. Which begs the question of how many of us actually love what we do? There is an aspect of my career that I love. Which is helping people. I work in an area of the government where I actually get to influence change for the better. Some people would say that my job is “cool”, and maybe it is, but I’m feeling a bit burned out by it. I am responding to emails after hours, or thinking about work the night before. When I really should be thinking about my own life and how to improve it.
Or should I? On the other side of the spectrum, there’s a notion that your career should be driven by passion. We should want to love what we do so much that it doesn’t matter what time of day it is, we will do it. But is that a good idea? To back up a bit, let’s talk about a notion that Henry Ford came up with over a century ago. He suggested that your work/life balance should be broken into thirds. 1/3 of your life should be spent at work, 1/3 of your life should be spent doing things for yourself and 1/3 of your life should be spent sleeping. What this did for Ford, was allowed him to shorten the work week, which actually ended up increasing production. We tend to think that if we work longer that means we’re working harder. Therefore being more productive.
But there’s something to be said about working smarter. Which makes me wonder if there is no such thing as a work/life balance. Especially when it comes to the creative types. Take writing for example, if I have an idea, I need to write it down immediately. If it’s 3 am or 5 pm, it doesn’t matter. If writing was my “job”, then this might mean I have no or very little work/life balance. But I don’t think that’s really the case. I have a traditional 9-5 job, and like I’ve mentioned, my heart isn’t really into it right now. But, if I had a more creative job, like writing, I think I’d be more passionate about it. Because I’m passionate about writing. Does that make sense?
I think we get bogged down by what should be. If you’re lucky enough to have a creative job, then you know you can’t end your day at 5 pm. Which means, you have to be able to adapt your life to fit that schedule. But if you do have a creative job, the idea that 1/3 of your life should be spent on work might not apply. Perhaps the goal is to find a profession that is fueled by your love of said profession. Which would eliminate this 1/3 idea. Because you would be doing it all the time, in theory. Maybe you spend 10 hours writing today, because you love it so much. But some of that could also be considered “you” time as you love your craft.
I think that this type of idea only works for those who are lucky enough to have a career that is also their passion. Note, I’m not complaining about my job. I actually love it, but I’m really getting bogged down by the details and would rather be working on bigger picture ideas. People who work those traditional 9-5 jobs need to find a work life balance. Which makes me super envious of those whose life is their work. Which is also their passion.