Work / life balance

work.jpgMomLovesBeingAtHome had a good post on the importance of family vs. work.  I’ve had good opportunities and have worked hard (most of the time 😉 ), but I’ve always had a real passion for ensuring a good work/life balance. 

I’ve observed that no matter how long or at how high a level someone works in a company, he or she is completely replaceable and often quickly forgotten.  That doesn’t mean we should seek friendships at work, but that we shouldn’t be naive about who really cares about us. 

I’m sure we’ve all had bosses who really cared about us . . . until it actually cost them something.

I saw lots of senior executives at Compaq / HP who everyone listened to intently because of their positions. But the day after they left, virtually no one cared what they thought or laughed at their jokes.  Once when a Sr. VP of Human Resources resigned, there was a major meeting the next day and his departure wasn’t even mentioned.  It was as if he had never existed.

I worked for a “Big 8” accounting firm (now down to the “Big 4”) the first few years out of college.  I quickly saw how being a workaholic was a bad long term strategy – health problems, alcoholism, broken families, etc. 

Work/life balance has some seemingly counter-intuitive benefits.

I think that focusing on it has made me a better worker because I strive so hard to do things more efficiently, to do them right the first time, to anticipate problems, to find root causes and fix them instead of just dealing with the clean up, etc. 

Emphasizing work/life balance for employees has actually improved the productivity of my groups.  Trusting, happy employees work harder and better and waste less time complaining to each other than those in sweat shop environments.

Working out at lunch may have cost me networking points and some “productivity,” but it gave me more energy.

Work is a good thing.  It uses our God given talents to support our families and serve others.  Many people don’t realize this, but work was in the Garden of Eden before the Fall – Genesis 2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

A couple truisms: Sacrificing your health to make money so that you end up spending your money trying to regain your health is a lousy proposition. 

All your money and all your success can’t buy your kids a second childhood.

What are your tips for keeping a good work/life balance?

4 thoughts on “Work / life balance”

  1. Neil, I work from home or on the road. Very occasionally, I go to the office, when I do, it’s almost empty. My kids are mostly grown, a high-school senior still at home.

    I’ve decided to give work/life balance the same attention that I give to my job. I schedule events with family, and then treat them with the same respect I do a customer meeting. When asked to do something that interferes with home-life, I simply explain I have a previous commitment.

    I also try to be spontaneous. When I can, I try to take my son to lunch, just to talk. I try to cook for my wife, make the bed and little things.

    Unfortunately, I have to slap myself sometimes, because as good as all of the stuff above sounds, I sometimes fail at this. After a few days of this, I realize how I’ve failed (or get told by my wife or someone else) and I slap myself and try harder.

    Fortunately, my wife and son are understanding.

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  2. Great post, Neil! It’s so nice to see men realize that their families and life outside of work are just as important as their jobs. You and Randy (comment above) seem to be doing a great job in this area! 🙂

    Thanks for the link but I can’t take the credit for what you read in my post because I read it at: http://realworldmartha.wordpress.com/2008/01/29/do-you-know-what-the-word-family-means/

    (Sorry, I don’t know how to hyperlink in comments in order to make that shorter.)

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  3. I work for one of a big IT co and I’m lucky that our leadership seems to be genuinely interested on us as employees.

    I also get to work from home (though lately I haven’t :-() except for Fridays).

    The weekends are all for the family (except my blogging time).

    During the week, though I spend a lot of time at the computer, I try to spend time with my kids. My kids are my world. My wife too. 🙂

    Our house is small so we run into each other all the time…

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