Posts Tagged work life balance
Triggered by an article in the New York Times, I thought I pick up on some thoughts re life life balance. I have written about work life balance before. Both when discussing the move towards the South coast and regarding jobs and personal development.
I prefer the term life life balance as we don’t balance work and life, we essentially balance our life.
Actually, there is a reason why I am so interested, and to my mind very good, in productivity. I get a lot more things done than others in less time and know when and where I can get things done. What do I mean by that?
On a normal day I get up at 5 am. Check any important emails, check for podcasts or video on demand services, and go on the treadmill for 30 minutes to catch up on those. Following that I have a small healthy breakfast whilst catching up on the news, shower and be out of the door for my half seven train.
My 50 minute train journey is different every day. Depending on my work load I might nap in the morning, catch up on emails, google reader, read a book, write a blog post or listen to a podcast. I normally don’t nap in the evening but still catch up on the day’s events, doing similar things to what I do in the morning.
Since moving to the South coast I try to leave the office on time on Mondays and Fridays, and normally not later than six or half six during the week. I know anything outside those hours can be dealt with on the journey or when home. I don’t need to be physically present in the office.
Latter is what has changed since the 1950ies when people had rules: clock in clock out, time stamps, or wife stay at home mum whilst husband is the bread winner. I would try to be home for dinner but currently the kids eat around 5 pm and are in bed by 7 pm. That means unless I leave the office extremely early I cannot see them during the week. But some days I see them in the morning.
I am lucky that I can work from homes regularly and try to do so too. It makes a huge difference to spend some time with the family during the week.
Another key to a good life balance is to be able to switch off. Not only your mind but also your phone. Evenings and weekends are key. Before I had two separate phones I got calls and emails late at night or at the weekend. I wouldn’t do that again. If you spend most of your week working, then you need to be fully present at the weekend, to spend as much time with your family as you can. Full on!
It seems like I am always full on. Relaxation happens in the evening, weekends or whilst running. Or on the way home travelling. Having a GTD (Getting Things Done) like system that allows for optimal task management plus my productivity suite on my iPad makes me super efficient on the go.
Or at least I like to think so. There are still some improvements I can make, and I guess I am lucky because my company understands I have family and doesn’t judge me on time in the office but results. Latter is how we should manage performance in the 21st century.
How do you manage?
Have a productive day,
This week I started writing this post whilst flying off to Germany. I am away for two nights, three days to get training on a new platform. Luckily my company allows me to be quite flexible, so I went home early last night to see the boys.
Colin has been asking for me when I am away. So when I make the effort to come home early, of course making up the time after the kids go to bed, he is all chuffed. We play with train tracks or he tells me what all he has been up to all day. Rohan is also very paly, particularly now that he got a cold. I suppose C is too young to understand that I come home for him, that I make this effort because I am away for a few days. That is why I sometimes work from home too, so he sees I am around, we can have lunch together or watch Ben and Hollie.
But, as my wife rightly remarked, it is not about me being there when he watches TV or plays with the iPhone. I am afraid to change it as I don’t want to upset him, maybe a bit lazy as I am glad to be home early. I don’t know to be honest, but the concept of TV and iPhone games for toddlers needs to be rethought. And the concepts of dads being too weak to educate too!
Anyway, we also had problems with our fish lately. Two weeks ago we got four more fish, then another four. Whilst they replaced some, we might have overcrowded the tank, fed too much and also had some plants dying. All that together led to fish loss of by now two mollies, two gold barbs and unnoticed before a few panda corydoras, which now led to high nitrate levels. We got the water tested twice last week and the shop said it is fine. Now we hope that a 50% water change helped, and we will continue to change more water until the eco system is restored. I was panicking this week, and learning a lot about eco systems, fish and nitrates. Fingers crossed the remaining fish are going to be ok. It seems as we got things turned around.
I also was ill this week. So were the kids, I am having the man flu, and the weather gets from bad to worse. Winter is on our door step. I hate not being able to run, I feel like I am letting myself down, not eating too well, not sleeping well, not exercising. I am not loosing the power and energy yet but the break from exercising has been far too long. Fingers crossed I am back on the tread mill next week. I am not travelling for another two weeks, so that should be ok. If only this cold would go away.
Supposedly the long days and at least one long night in Germany didn’t help. If you work with some of the finest people, you like to hang out with them, have fun and often get carried away.
I definitely not loosing any energy whatsoever. I work on a few projects, some “physically”, some in my head. Reading this nutrition book for students really helps me to understand the human body, food intake and health in greater depth. Some people don’t understand why I like those side projects, but I do. It keeps me on my toes I suppose. It makes me think and look at things from a different angle.
On that note, C was praised for having good problem solving skills in school the other day. Family of mathematicians, physicians, engineers. Now I need him to learn how to sell
On Saturday my wife and I had our 5th wedding anniversary. It made us happy but also a bit thoughtful. I asked her if in five years time, C being 8 and R being 6, we would still love each other as much and what it would be like. Now think back five years. We had both jobs, I was in between two at the time, have since moved on and up, we had two kids, have our second home, the cats, people died, life moved on and our love is still going strong. I believe there is a great synergy and balance we provide for each other. For another five years and long beyond that. Make it 50!
We also had some friends over. Six adults, six boys, three age three. Wow, what an experience. Lots of work. I think we realised that we need to spend a whole day with our friends and then stay over in order to have adult conversation and have a proper catch up when the kids are in bed. I guess we are learning to be grown ups.
That pretty much summarises my week. Ups and downs. Next week I hope that I feel a lot better and get a lot more of my planned stuff done.
Have a good one.
What a week. Sunny weather in London. Full pubs. All flags up for the Diamond Jubilee. Britain is enjoying the summer and it’s Britishness. I cannot imagine to live in any other town or country at the moment.
Of course that comes at a time when we finally exchanged contracts on our new house and we will be moving in 2 weeks time.
Work seems to dominate my life at the moment. So additionally to a lot of stress with the solicitors regarding the house, organising the move etc, it seems that since we got taken over in December, it is like a new job. And my job changed again just now. I might not work long hours at the moment unless I am travelling where I put in two-day-days but that will change soon too. It is very draining though and exhaustive to plan, put together strategies and organise a few things I cannot speak about here. Anyway – it has been 2.5 years since I started at my current job and I made a very conscious decision to turn off my phone and not to check any emails or voicemails for the 2 weeks when I go on holidays. And yes, I like my job
Holidays might be exaggerated but we move house and I go to a friend’s wedding in Germany. I believe it is time to truly switch off. I even spoke to my boss whilst my wife was in labour, so it is time for a break, recharge, and come back to the new job with more power and strength than before. Whilst I always talk about productivity and energy households, this time I might actually lead by example. I don’t always do hat, for instance I do not take enough breaks.
Anyway. Enough about blowing my own trumpet of how great I am. I just enjoy what I do: simples. But at times you need to realise that you are not non-replaceable. And that’s it.
Let’s see what happened with the family this week? Rohan walks more but not consistently. Fingers crossed he will be properly walking soon. He seems ready but his feet aren’t. As if he had some rubbery bones Colin is great, and at an fantastic age. I so enjoy playing with him. Let it be at 6 am in the morning on a Saturday or after 8 whilst having a BBQ with our neighbours. Sometimes you just need to make use of the available time.
My running is going well too. I lost a few kilos and increased my speed. Finally I got a good routine back and my upper back pain has improved a lot too.
The iPad is a great replacement for my netbook. I enjoy the instantly available apps and connectivity on the go. The external keyboard helps with longer emails or blog posts, and for flights I put on some movies.
Two more thoughts to finish off this week.
Our neighbours and us agreed that 3 beers are plenty these days. With us being up at night with the kids and not sleeping great, we cannot cope with more: how old did we get? On the other hand we didn’t have a hangover after half a bottle of really good wine. Overall I drink a lot less alcohol than I used to but that’s the way it goes I suppose. I am up half the night and from 5.30 am. This just doesn’t mix.
The other thought came to me when I met a friend who I see about once a year. He lives two streets down, just got a kid and we used to do Tai Chi together. However, we met for a coffee in the park, including children. We both gave our wives some free time, tried to cope and arrived at this stage in life where coping is probably the better way of describing every day than living. However, I believe that this perception will change once the youngest, e.g. Rohan, will be around 2ish. So another year of worrying, sleepless nights every night, cuddly nights in daddy’s/mummy’s bed and crying in the cot because he doesn’t want to go to bed. From in a year’s time things will improve. Not long now!
I guess this sums up another draining and hot week. One more week to go before my 2 week work break starts. I can focus on the new house, unpack boxes and settle. I will arrive. I hope anyway.
Have a good one,
Weeks seem to pass quicker and quicker. I finally made up my mind regarding phones and got myself the ultimate iPhone4s. The difference between an Android and an iPhone is significant. Whilst the battery life is not much better, the usability is a lot better. I remember moving from a Blackberry to Android. That was a great step, things were good. Now it seems like another step up. As I keep the HTC as a work phone I get the best of both worlds….
I don’t want to speak too much about work. The reasons are simple, there is too much happening with the integration of our new owner. Exciting times, exciting position and visions. I keep learning and developing which is very important for me. March will see a lot of travelling again, and I am looking forward to it. I think this year is going to be very exciting and fantastic. I am glad to be part of it!
Also this week I had another unhealthy lifestyle. Too much wine, too many lunches and dinners…I cannot wait to move and get my very own treadmill in the garage to counter balance that. I should eat a lot healthier too. But just getting some exercise on a regular basis will make a huge difference. Fingers crossed.
With the work load and the kiddies going to bed around 7ish, I haven’t managed to see them at night time at all this week. So weekends are getting more and more important for me. Time to catch up with the boys! Being able to turn work off completely gives me a new feeling. I still check the emails and prepare things on a Sunday night, but not having your emails on your personal phone makes a huge difference. I should have done that a lot earlier.
Anyway, the weekend was great. I managed to clear out the loft a bit and got my wife a birthday present. Pandora: a clever idea. You buy your wife a bracelet and in order to fill it up with charms completely you keep buying those little charms. For mothers day, Christmas, or any occasion really. A very clever business idea I have to say. I am impressed.
Next weekend is the big birthday…..so I have a few days off too. Catching up with my 2011 holidays. I hope we can go away and have a nice lunch with the boys somewhere. The car does come in handy even if you are inclined to drive like a taxi driver when hearing the engine. It’s just not a fancy SUV It just fulfils the purpose of a family car.
One last thing I noticed today. Cafe Giardino, a chain for “fresh healthy food”, naturally good, heats the lasagne and pasta in the microwave rather than serving fresh food as they claim. Their sandwiches look box standard, no chips are available probably because they would need a kitchen.
Maybe not the best thing to mention after an unhealthy week, but if restaurants rely on microwaves in order to serve natural good food, then I am not surprised that we have a lot of diseases and illnesses traced back to our lifestyle.
You can see, I am in the process of changing my food once again. Every few months (the experienced reader has noticed the pattern by now) I look at the amount of take aways, coffee and alcohol I consume. Latter is actually not too bad but the take aways and coffees are particular bad recently. Hence last night I ordered some new herbal teas. Change is good!
Have a great week. Based on the discussions I had this week there are more people reading my blog than anticipated. You guys never really comment Anyway, I am glad to have a readership and to answer the burning question: no we don’t know yet when we move. But, we got rid of the wasp nest in the loft
Wow, wow….we bought a house. Sounds simple and sounds good but of course everything can still go wrong. I am still debating whether to post pictures, but for the time being I will not. It all happened quite quickly. We accepted an offer last week on our property, went to Hassocks to look at properties last weekend, and on Monday we made an offer which got accepted. Looks chain free; looks like it might be going through smoothly and quickly. Fingers crossed we are in the new place for Easter! Wow.
I guess these news are enough for a week. As you can imagine our heads are going wild about ideas what we could do and how. Our heads are planning furniture, fittings, garden design and what all we could do with the garage. It is this mind game. But there is no deal until you got the keys.
The rest of the week was ok. Work is busy as usual but I had a few quiet days this week which was welcomed. However, Thursday I went to Admonsters conference (blog post to follow), an industry event around real time bidding, display and biddable media. Great to speak to a few leading industry heads and discuss current issues of the industry.
Friday I had a day off work. Rohan had his first birthday – so I spent the day taking Colin to school, taking the family out for lunch, and then we had a birthday party. Not big. A few friends, about 7 kiddies and some home made cake. I don’t know how mothers cope but I found it very tiring. But it was great fun too.
I started enjoying days off work more. This has nothing to do with work itself but that I embrace family life more. The HTC I have still seems to think that I should read my emails despite saying “don’t sync”. That and some other features I don’t like lead me to finally get myself an iPhone and use the HTC for work purposes only. This way I can actually turn work off if I am not working. Something I wanted to do for a long time, and I think I will benefit from a clearer work life balance.
To add to this misery I got a Samsung Galaxy Android tablet from work. No, I am not complaining. I love it. But it gets me into a situation of whether I will spend money on an iPad or not….decisions decisions. I guess it depends how much I am going to like the iPhone and whether I really want to carry 2 phones, 2 tablet PCs and one laptop with me…. – ok I stop. Even the thought of two phones annoys me already….
I guess this pretty much sums up the week. A good week. A positive week!
We had friends over this afternoon for some more birthday celebrations and adult catch up. Life seems to be on hold sometimes. I was just told that a birthday party I vividly remember was already 2 years ago. Where has time gone. With the job, the two kids, now the house and all, I think that Christmas is just around the corner
Have a good one,
It has been a long week. I couldn’t even tell you why but Monday started out with so much work that I didn’t come home till late. I didn’t see the boys all day. On Tuesday I briefly saw Colin for 10 minutes in the morning, and was heading to a great networking event in the evening.
Wednesday and Thursday I spent in Cologne at a management meeting. I flew back on Friday morning and worked the afternoon from home, so the kids could at least see me for a little bit.
Having family seems to be a balancing act. You are glad you have a job and a career. You are happy that things progress in your job and you enjoy your work. You put a lot of effort in to constantly get better and better.
On the downside you don’t want to clock up too many hours in the office or travel a lot. You prefer to be with the family. And that is where the clash is coming in. With me probably travelling more within the next few months, I need to make sure that the time I have with the kids is properly spend. No interruptions when I am home. So that is something I need to learn. To not check emails when I am with the kids, and to be home when being home. I guess it is a new process and a new life but another step up. For both the kids, myself and within my career.
I guess they call it work life balance. I have been studying that for a long time but find that the practical approach could be somewhat different. Switching your brain off when home is difficult. Whenever I ask older people with family and careers I get different advice. One is that you should see your kids in the morning before you go to work as you never know whether you make it home for bathing time. Then to be home when you are home, see above. Also, one should use the time with the kids to relax and de-stress. I am confident it is manageable as so many other people have done it. You of course need a supportive wife
Anyway, tomorrow is the 3rd of October. Looking at the weather and having had a look at September, the month just passed very quickly. I can’t understand we are already in Q4. That was very quick. Also it is a public holiday in Germany tomorrow, celebrating the reunification. I am going to put a special blog post on tomorrow to share another few thoughts on Germany and my relationship with it.
Oh, and we finally got our car back. No gear box or wheel bearings, just the handbrake and a v-joint. Latter is still to be replaces as they kept waiting for the part. So fingers crossed it is all in order again. They had to replace the hand brake but there are still some awkward noises to be heard. So the story continues…
That’s it. Some thoughts on family and work. Nothing new I suppose, just another blurb from my corner of the world. I spend the weekend with the kids, going for walks, visiting friends and playing trains. I loved it. Good to be home.
Have a great week, and a great October.
This week we went on holidays. We rented a berth at Sandy Balls in the New Forest as recommended by some good friends of ours. The environment our berth is located in is fantastic. Lots of forest (New Forest, I guess you got the hint), open fields, narrow roads, country houses and cottages. England as you love it. It is only about 2.5 hours drive from home, of which Colin slept most of the time. So we arrived for a 3 pm check in and started exploring what this place was about. Unfortunately it started raining, so we ended up in the pub with some great local ale, pub food, and a kid’s disco.
I can imagine, at some point in my life, to move to the country side. The English, Scottish or Welsh country side to re-build a cottage, build a Huf House or just move to a renovated propery. Who knows. Life is great out here.
The moment we arrived you could see that Colin got so excited seeing something else, exploring something new! In hindsight he got over excited so that we only could get him to sleep around 9:30 at night. By that time I had a few naps on the couch and my wife was exhausted too. This didn’t improve over the next few days, no matter how we tried to tire out our wee man, he just wouldn’t settle. I guess an older boy would understand and you could communicate with him, a younger one, like Rohan, just doesn’t bother. The joys of taking 2 year olds away from home
So that was day one. I am normally someone that says, I don’t want to go on holidays. It is more comfortable at home, you know what you’ve got, and you have internet. But how important is that all? I can do most things via my Android phone, and a week’s break from my Google Reader won’t hurt (although even that could be accessed via the phone). But you quickly realise how unimportant emails or work become. I am here to quieten my mind, shut up about work and relax. And I did. I finally got some distance between work and myself. For the first time in almost 20 months to not check emails every day. That was about time!
I guess holidays as such are about choosing. Choosing what you want to do and how you want to do it. A concept that I am still mastering. This sounds sad, but from my personality I like to work, get things done, organise and manage things. But since I got my boys I notice how priorities are shifting. I believe it was the Dragon’s Den Duncan Ballantyne’s wife who said in an interview once that Duncan is very good to judge when things are important and when they can wait. I guess it is just a small step up from my work life balance and productivity theories. It is like productivity of not being productive, a clear form of prioritising as my wife would say
Now day 2 was rainy. Whilst I don’t want to go into much detail on how we got soaked first in Salisbury, then at Stonehenge, we had a fantastic day nevertheless. Colin was, due to sleep deprivation, very grumpy and slept everytime we were in the car. I was tired beyond normal and got a mayor headache that could only be cured with wine at night I learned that day that no matter how tired YOU are, and how awful the weather is, YOU have to be there for your kids. Not a great revelation but more of a “I don’t care if you are buggered dad, you are the one that I rely on, you are the one that makes sure I am safe“. This holiday I am learning to be a grown up, to be a father and dad to my two boys.
I don’t want to give you a breakdown of every activity. We did fantastic walks, got rained on more and ended up in a lovely country pub which home made food and local ale. Colin enjoys using his balance bike, and he just loves to be outside. Rohan is just himself, coping well with his first teeth. My wife and I enjoyed a great time away. Much better than anticipated.
Looking back we had a few fantastic days away. Holidays are good for you, and they give you some distance to everyday life. This let’s you concentrate on what is really important: your family and kids.
So we came home on Friday to a new washing machine as the old one died after I put a terpentine (floor wax) drenched cloth in it and it ruined not only the washing but also the whole machine. We now got a washer dryer, just in time for autumn, at least weather wise it looks like we are moving into the darker seasons again already soon.
I am not dreading to go back to work next week, but for a long time I noticed again that there is a life beyond work. Ask me again in 2 weeks if that feeling persisted
Have a great week,
Another week that passed like crazy. I wonder if I am getting busier or if things just happen quicker. I spoke to a few people lately at the end of the week that didn’t remember what happened on Monday. Same here. I wonder if that is sustainable and healthy, and how the pace of work and life might have got worse. Wednesday for instance I worked from home as Rohan was due another scan (everything is ok!). Now, I still spend until 20.30 on the phone discussing work. Wow.
I am not complaining, I like what I am doing (Hello Boss ) – it is more about the pace of life. I have two more blog post drafts, one about friendship, one about the life cycle and speed of life. It is all about managing the speed of change. And, it gets more difficult. Those who keep up will have a great career and life, the others might not have a great career but possibly a better life.
This weekend my parents came to visit their 4th grand child and I hardly got anything done. My Google Reader is overflowing, my twitter needs looking at and writing the blog post was a challenge. On the other hand I spent quality off line time with my friends from Vietnam, my parents and the family. What is more important?
Living the life, being up to date in both social media, personal blog, work and career or to have some off line time with the family. I believe it is a no brainer that family is most important. However, I couldn’t neglect my job either. I am trying to find a good balance. Given my situation, I am most probably much busier at both ends of the spectrum: work and life. But I enjoy it, it challenges me, and I am learning every day. That in return means that in a few months or years, I might be better to cope with more stress and strain than peers that didn’t have a similar experience.
Now, all I am doing is one feed a night. Other dads do two or three (and some don’t do any). I tried more at the weekend, and I find it difficult to cope (even without having lots of wine). Life is just moving so quickly. Also, coming back to my earlier point, I know of people who quit Facebook to not have the need to keep up to date with it. I was contemplating it but came to the conclusion that I cannot do it. My wife regularly de-installs and re-installs the Facebook app on her iPhone. I know exactly what she is thinking. Working in the industry I wouldn’t want to give it up. But what if after Facebook, Twitter and my blog there is more coming. Yes it is all out of choice but how much can we keep up with?
My dad just mentioned to me last night that for him, being 68, a smart phone or an iPad is nothing he is interested in. That is too much to get used to and if his desktop ever gives up, it will be a small laptop replacing it. For him it is even too much to think he could be connected via mobiles/smart phones all the time.
I sometime envy him. I sometimes look at my grandads diary from the 1930ies when he went on the Walz. That is after an apprenticeship a carpenter goes away from home to work at different projects. He took a bus, sat in the sun, having a beer, doing some work and had a good time. Writing a postcard or a letter home, forgot to send it for days, wondering if mum was worried…..
What would he have thought if today all he had to do is update his Facebook status, send his mum a text or email whilst tweeting about the good old life he had. Don’t get me wrong, he of course had stress and strain, but it was different. Less external I would have thought, more coming from within. I got calls before because I didn’t update my Facebook status for a day. The world has changed……
I leave you with those thoughts and hope you have a great week!
Nigel Walsh spoke on TED about Work Life Balance.
What I take from this video:
- I am not 40 yet.
- I want to spend more life with my family.
- I don’t know if my career matches a work-life balance.
- I don’t want to leave it until it is too late.
- Work Life is about the balance of emotions, spiritual and personal relationships and work.
- I work on further concepts and buy his book.