08 10 / 2012
How can one achieve a work-life balance? How can one keep professional life from dominating everything?
Set inviolable rules (the easy part) and then don’t violate them (always much harder). In the mid-1990s, I was simultaneously involved in rushing a product to market and being the full-time single dad of a middle-school son. I made a point to take my son to school every morning, to pick him up most afternoons, and to have dinner with him and lots of other “quality time” every evening. At the slight expense of my pulling all-nighters on a weekly-or-more basis, everything worked out okay: We shipped the product without delay, it won national recognition, and my kid turned out okay (except, of course, for becoming a software engineer). A few months after the product was shipped, my company cancelled it, and a few years later, I had a heart attack at age 46. Since then, I’ve been willing to draw much more reasonable rules and abide by them, well, like my life depended on them. Think very, very hard about the word life in the phrase “work-life balance!”