OPINION

In defense of traditional work-life balance

I enjoyed Rian van der Merwe’s first column on A List Apart, in which he defends a traditional view of work-life balance. The following echoes my own policy - I try to be 100% at work during work hours, but afterwards, I’m 0% at work (crises and extraordinary circumstances excluded)

I have a weird rule about this. Work has me—completely—between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. It has 100 percent of my attention. But outside of those hours I consider it part of being a sane and good human to give my kids a bath, chat to my wife, read, and reflect on the day that’s past and the one that’s coming—without the pressure of having to be online all the time

And the following:

But I don’t sit and do email for hours every night. See, the time I spend with people is what gives my work meaning. I do what I do for them—for the people in my life, the people I know, and the people I don’t. If we never spend time away from our work, how can we understand the world and the people we make things for?

One of the comments on Riaan’s article mentions the benefits of a “flexible understanding” with one’s employer, allowing the flexibility to look after family situations (kids to school or the doctor), and I’m fortunate that my industry and my employer tend to allow these, since so much of our critical work is done outside of normal working hours.


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