Collected Links on Busyness, Boundaries, and Balance
Busy Isn’t Respectable Anymore – Tyler Ward, tylerwardis.com: “Being busy used to make me feel important. It made me feel like the world needed me, like somehow I was more valuable or valid when busy. Perhaps that’s why I wore it like a badge and quickly resorted to it when people asked how life was. Yet in all reality, busyness was just another addiction I clung to so I could avoid things that made me uncomfortable. As it turns out, always being busy isn’t a virtue, nor is it something to respect anymore. It can actually be a sign of an inability to manage our lives well. It can be indicative of a lack of confidence and self-worth. Busyness actually restricts professional performance and limits mental capacity.”
Why Can’t We Stop Working? – Dorie Clark, Harvard Business Review: “The ROI of work is immediately apparent. You get instant feedback and, oftentimes, instant gratification in the form of raises, promotions, new contracts, or general approbation. The arc of family life is different. In the moment, it can be banal, boring, or discouraging. Harvard happiness researcher Daniel Gilbert has shown that children don’t increase parents’ short-term happiness; in fact, on a day-to-day basis, parents prefer almost anything (from watching television to exercising) to spending time with their kids. Work is certainly one societally sanctioned excuse. Yet, says Christensen, many professionals are dismayed to wake up in midlife and discover frayed relationships, divorces, and alienation from their family. We have to grasp the difference between the short and long-term rewards of work and our personal lives.”
Happy Workaholics Need Boundaries, Not Balance – Ed Batista, Harvard Business Review: “Success is typically a function of our passion for work and accomplishment—my clients and students are generally “happy workaholics” who love what they do and wish there were more hours in the day to get things done. (I view myself this way as well.) The concept of life/work balance isn’t that helpful for us, because there’s always more work to do, we’re eager to do it, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. In some cases, particularly in junior roles early in our careers, this tendency can be exploited by a dysfunctional culture or an uncaring manager, and at those times we need to protect ourselves to avoid burnout. But as we advance professionally we’re less subject to those external forces, and we need to protect ourselves primarily from our own internal drive. Here’s one way to think about protecting yourself. Years ago my colleague Michael Gilbert suggested that we substitute ‘boundaries’ for’ balance’: while balance requires an unsteady equilibrium among the various demands on our time and energy, boundaries offer a sustainable means of keeping things in their proper place.”
Irreplaceable Time – Kate Bowles, Music for Deckchairs: “Last week, the fifth annual Go Home On Time Day campaign pointed out quietly that if their survey extrapolates over the whole population, then half the Australian workforce are unhappy with the hours they work. Both the overworked and the underemployed are becoming frantic in this economy of the hamster wheel. 2.8 million Australians may need more working hours than they can piece together from casual, seasonal employment, just to make ends meet; and both casual and permanent employees are now suffering from the culture of unpaid overtime. I’ve been thinking about this because on Go Home on Time Day this year, I was sitting in a surgeon’s office. It turns out that I have breast cancer, and I found out that very day. And here’s the thing: I first thought about getting something checked out exactly 12 months ago. I found time at the end of 2012 to take a day off work, got a referral from my GP, and then the vague unease passed. So I didn’t chase it up.
“Over a busy year being both a full-time worker and a parent to three school-age children, I noticed now and then that the unease came back, and I fought with it in the middle of the night, along with to-do lists and unsent emails and ideas for projects and the anxieties of my co-workers and all of my misgivings about working for an institution whose driving mission is to be in the top 1% of world universities, which seems to me as shallow and demoralising an idea as any I’ve heard since I started working in higher education.”