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Archive for the ‘work/life’ Category

It’s critical for your sanity and for the sake of work actually getting done to establish clear boundaries for the home office. This pertains to space – where is your workspace and who is allowed access to it – and to when you’re ‘at the office’ and when you’re ‘at home.’

I’ve highly recommend having a dedicated workspace, whether it’s a desk, an alcove, or an actual room. Right now, I’m lucky enough to have a room, with a door that closes. The monkeys, Mr. Daddy, and our former nannies all know that if the door to my office was closed, they should act like I’m not home. Even when I didn’t have a door to close, I made it clear to everyone in the house that when I was ‘at work’ – sitting at my desk – I was unavailable.

I never really have had auditory privacy, which means I know what’s going on in the house even when I’m at work.  Sometimes I would hear stuff going on and help out, especially when the monkeys were tiny babies. But I found that as they got older, it became really hard for them to see me pop in and out of their day but not have me to play with. So it was better for them and for me that when I’m working, I’m working and when I’m done, I’m done. When they’re home while I’m at work, I keep water and snacks nearby so they don’t have to see me while I’m working.

One thing I’m less good at is evening boundaries for when I’m at home. It’s almost impossible not to dip in and out of email in the evenings to see what’s up in my West Coast office. Ideally, I’d cut that out and make the boundaries even more sharp – perhaps by setting aside 15-20 min to check and respond to email once in the evening so I can have some regular down time. But I haven’t quite gotten there yet. It’s a work in progress.

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One of the challenges of managing the intersection of work and life is that the language that we currently use to discuss it is misleading, and often dangerously so.

One of the phrases I hate is “having it all.”  I hate it for a couple of reasons. It makes the person who wants to “have it all” sound greedy, like they think they deserve more than their fair share. And it assumes that there is a single interpretation of “it all” that is shared, commonly understood thing that we’re all shooting for. I find neither of these implications to be true.  

In reality, people who want enriching work lives and enriching home lives aren’t all the same. We don’t all have the same definitions of enriching work or life – or even the same definitions of home. And we’re not necessarily asking for more of anything, just different ways of being, and the ability to move about it multiple domains.  

It’s less like an all you can eat buffet and more like a dim sum brunch. We’re not trying to gorge on everything, just looking for opportunities to taste a variety of interesting flavors, see how they compare and relate. And we’re happy to pay by the piece.

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