I feel sure I've had a "work-life balance" edition of weekend links before, but I'm too lazy to either find out or come up with a new name. And I have a whole bevy of links on the topic this week!
First up, Andie Fox, who writes the Blue Milk blog had a great article in Daily Life about work-life balance and Sheryl Sandberg leaving work at 5:30 for dinner with her kids. And then she posted a follow up on her blog about an awesome reaction one boss had to it.
Sheryl Sandberg's work schedule seems to be irresistible blog and article fodder, really. Cal Newport at Study Hacks also posted about her schedule, but he takes a different lesson from it, and argues that it is an example of using a fixed schedule to increase productivity. (If you don't know about fixed schedules and productivity, he explains more about them in a different article.)
Reading these two articles and their comments made me think two things:
1. Why must some commenter always come along and argue that Ms. Sandberg is surely putting in more hours at night? I'm sure she does sometimes, but I suspect if she did it as part of her regular schedule, she'd have said so. And so what if she does? It doesn't really detract from her original message. I don't have any evidence to back me up, but I wonder whether people always try to poke this particular hole in the story because the idea that someone could be as successful as Sandberg is while working a more sane schedule than theirs makes them feel inadequate or threatened, and so they try to tear her down. Personally, I'd rather try to learn from her techniques.
2. The two articles both argue for similar changes in behavior and work place expectations, but from different perspectives. I agree with the arguments in both of those articles, but, the awesome boss in the Blue Milk post aside, I think the productivity argument is more likely to carry the day in the work place. And it neatly sidesteps those tiresome arguments about how parents are slacking off and taking advantage of the workers who don't have kids and therefore "don't get to" leave early or what not. For any new readers- I've explained my opinion on this before, but in nutshell, I think everyone deserves a life outside work, and if parents are the ones who seem to be "getting" it, it is actually that we are taking it, because we have something that is worth risking the career repercussions for, namely our kids.
With that said, though, people seem to really struggle with the idea of fixed schedule productivity- see, for instance, a recent article from Leslie Perlow at the Harvard Business School, which describes the resistance to the idea of not being always "on" and a way to overcome it. For some reason, academics seems to struggle with this even more than most. The science-blogosophere was discussing work-life balance recently, spurred on by another round of ridiculous comments someone made on the subject. I found the discussion via Dr. O's post on the subject. Prof-life substance makes some good points in his post- although I don't think of it as dropping balls, I do agree that the key to "balance" is recognizing that you'll have to make compromises, and trying to find the compromises that will let you get to all of end goals you want (e.g., doing a good job raising kids, having a satisfying career....) Regardless, his refutation of this particular round of spectacularly bad advice is pretty funny.
Drug Monkey also has a good post about how to have a life while having a career (hint: don't be willing to sacrifice everything else in your life to your career.
I think it is great that there are male scientists who are blogging about these things now. It would be even more great if there wasn't such a double standard for men and women on this topic, but since I suspect that the only way to kill that double standard is to normalize the idea of everyone having a life outside the lab.... I'm glad there are men willing to speak up on this. (But do you think we'd all be talking about it if instead of Sheryl Sandberg saying she leaves work at 5:30 to have dinner with her kids, Mark Zuckerberg said he leaves at 5:30 to go surf or do something like that? I doubt it, but I'd be happy to be wrong about that.)
Female Science Professor had the funniest work-life balance posts, though- she looked at the images used to illustrate the concept and then made some better ones.
A lot of the blogs and sites I read focus on making space for the "life" side of the work-life balance equation, but it is worth reminding ourselves that the "work" side is important, too. Different people want different things- and given how sensitive everyone is on this topic right now, I feel I need to make it clear that if your personal ideal for work-life balance is to put paid work aside for awhile, that's great and if you're happy with the arrangement, I'm happy for you. But for a long time, women, and mothers in particular, were encouraged to put aside any dreams they had for work outside the home in favor of other people's dreams, and that wasn't always a happy arrangement for them. Along those lines, Cali Williams Yost had a beautiful tribute to her mother, and how her mother taught her to dream. I found it via Laura Vandkerkam's twitter feed.
So... lots of links this week. Let me know what you think in the comments!