Friday, October 07, 2011

Weekend Reading: The Men Write about Work-Life Balance Edition

I've been reading a lot about work-life balance lately, and it has all been written by men.

It all started when I followed a link from my stats page to the search results that led someone to my Work-Life Manifesto post, and found, on the same results page, this post from a programmer and dad who is working fewer hours... and finding that his productivity hasn't really suffered. (Sound familiar?)

That led me to the Signal to Noise blog from 37signals. They have a lot to say about not working insane hours- here's a post I liked. I really like this quote:

"If you only have 32 hours this week to get something done, you’re not going to waste time."

A comment on one of their posts led me to this very inspirational interview with the CEO of Great Harvest Bread. I recommend reading the entire interview, but here's a quote that resonated with me:

"An important rule: never let anyone -- yourself included -- make you "pay" for taking a vacation. You work a bit harder before, but it's because you naturally feel like it. You work a bit harder when you get back, often, because you feel like it. But don't ever buy in to other people's myth that the work should stack up. It shouldn't, or something's broke."

And then someone's Twitter feed (probably @cydharrell) led me to the Study Hacks blog, which has recently "graduated" (sorry, couldn't resist) from writing only about how to have a decent life as a successful student to how to have a decent life as a successful working person. I'm finding a lot to think about in the series of posts about being a "career craftsman"- for instance this one about how following your passion may not lead to occupational bliss.

So why, exactly, have we let the work-life balance issue get framed as a "working mother's issue?"


  1. ooh, thanks for all the links. I just wrote a post for a Women in Technology blog about flexible work arrangements so this topic is on my mind.

  2. Good question at the end, Cloud. I'll be reading those links...

  3. Just read the programmer-dad's post. It should be required reading for all programmers! Thanks for the links!

  4. I didnt get to read all the links, but the last one piqued my curiosity, since I've just decided to follow my dream and work on my own business full time.

    I've definitely gone into it with open eyes, so I knew it was going to be hard, but I was still pretty surprised at how hard the work is physically, and scheduling my work, plus the difficulty of being a perfectionist and things arent always perfect.

    I'm doing an internship and I find that the demarkation between working for someone else, and working for myself is interesting, its less stressful going to work for someone else, so I'll probably be looking for a part time opportunity to balance things out.

    My biggest problem is probably going to be about giving myself time off. Saturday and Sunday are usually my busiest day, and I find that my husband jokes around a lot about how I go for coffee or meet a friend for lunch on Monday or Tuesday despite the fact I've worked all weekend, plus evenings. He doesnt mean it in a nasty way, but I know people probably judge a little!

  5. songbird10:33 AM

    Because for working fathers, it is a CHOICE to have work life balance, and for working mothers it is NOT. While it is beneficial for everyone, it is a NECESSITY for working mothers... and that frequently holds us back when we're competing with people who don't have the same needs that we do.

    The answer, of course, is to have a culture where men and women are equally responsible for the kids.

  6. I'm glad you all like the links.

    @Jennywenny- I thought of you when I read those posts! I think you went in with your eyes open, right? But I will still be interested to see what you think of the career change as things progress. (But I hope it works out for you, because I love your cakes!)

    @songbird, I completely understand what you're saying. I'll just throw this out there, though- the "optionality" of work-life balance for working dads is something that working moms can influence, at least within our own families. I don't think my husband considers it an optional thing in his job. Now some of that is that he has just always assumed he'd pull his fair share around the home. But if he didn't... I would call him on it. We both treat both careers as equally important, and frankly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

    I know that getting it to be that way isn't as easy as I make it sound- but I think we owe it to ourselves to talk to our partners and try to get to a fairer place within our families. No one is going to do that except us.

    And that is sort of the point I touched on with that last question. Why do we let it be optional for working dads?

  7. I definitely think work-life balance should not be a gender issue. Perhaps many more women look for deeper meaning for working and hence are also more likely to quit if they find the work not 100% satisfying. I think while that it's a noble goal to completely love your work/job, more emphasis should be put on the benefits (even joy) of supporting self, family and being able to earn a good living.

  8. That depends of their cultures @oilandgarlic


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