Nearly every interview I have attended (on both sides of the table) asks the question about balance. Namely, how does a person maintain sanity, stamina and overall health while working in dynamic, fast-paced, student-centered environments that may extend beyond the 9-5 workday.
I believe that the key to avoiding burnout, maintaining enthusiasm for the job and limiting frustration in the elusive quest to have a “balanced life” is to resist the urge to create steadfast boundaries and instead look for ways to blend your life.
A few examples:
If a university employee brings their child to a work event where children are encouraged to attend is that work time or personal time?
If I shop on-line for a gift for a friends’ wedding from my office computer is that work time or personal time?
If I go out for coffee with a good friend from another department during the day is that work time or personal time?
The answer to all of the above is “both.” And that is OK.
I have found that some of the most unhappy people in our field are professionals who create rigid boundaries that clearly define work and personal time. One example of this is the folks who turn off their email at 5:00 pm on Friday and don’t check it again until Monday. On one hand, I applaud them. It’s fantastic that you can focus solely on your personal pursuits over the weekend. If that works for you, I say go for it!
But oftentimes these are the same people who feel overwhelmed on Monday with the amount of voicemails and emails that they have to respond to. Or they may feel out of the loop if an email conversation occurred over the weekend and a decision was reached without their input because they did not respond right away. It’s all about the priorities you set and how you choose to manage your time. Choose what makes you happy, but be prepared to handle the drawbacks–there are some no matter if you choose to draw clear boundaries or lead a blended life.
A blended life means that each day is filled with all of the duties, responsibilities and opportunities that I have as a person, employee, wife and friend—and often the order of those roles differ, depending on the day. I have found a joyful life in both taking a couple of hours on a Saturday morning to work on email as well as leaving work early to take a yoga class. If one stops keeping score and just enjoys life as a whole person, you win every time!
Do you prefer to bound or blend your life? Share your strategies for success here!
To see another perspective on this issue, check out Stacy Oliver’s post at: http://stacyloliver.com/