Friday, June 29, 2012

Weekend Reading: The Periphery of the Work-Life Discussion Edition

It has been a bruiser of a week- intense week hosting training (and vendor to provide said training) at work, an almost-sick toddler, a trip to the San Diego County Fair, and preschool graduation. It seems a bit ironic to put up links about work-life balance, since my work and life are perfectly balanced and both killing me right now. But I've come across some interesting posts that resonate with me in light of the work-life balance discussion-fest that Anne-Marie Slaughter's Atlantic piece kicked off last week, and I just have to share!

First, a post from Dorie Clark at the Harvard Business Review about how success doesn't always come early- and that's OK. One of Slaughter's suggestions for improving the situation for mothers in the workforce is to change how we judge careers, and expect peaks, valleys, and plateaus instead of just a steady upward climb.  I agree- but wonder how much of the judgement about the valleys and plateaus comes from within us. This post is a nice reminder that not everyone reaches success in the same way. I'd add: each of us can define our own meaning of success.

Next, I clicked on this Slate article about what people really do when they are working from home expecting to hate it, but ended up liking it a lot. It captures some of the things I like about working from home- namely the chance to optimize my overall use of time. I do have one quibble, though- he mentions the fact that people confess to watching TV when working from home. From my time working in IT, I can tell you that people watch TV shows at work, too- they just stream them on their computer. We actually have seen people streaming entire feature movies, too. My opinion is that if people are not engaged by their work and want to waste time, they will find a way to do so, wherever they are.

Finally, Oil and Garlic had a nice post about accepting your life how it is, not how you imagined it would be when you were young. I think that accepting what won't be a part of your life and being honest with yourself about the type of parent you really are is a big step towards being happy with your work/home arrangement. For instance, even if I stayed home with my kids all day every day, I would never be the type of mom that comes up with cool crafts to do together. That's just not me. So there is no point feeling like I don't have time to do that sort of thing. The fact is, all the time in the world would not make crafts happen in our house. This is not to say that we shouldn't strive to achieve the thing we want. We should just be sure that we really, truly want them, and aren't just striving for a false ideal.

There were a lot of good posts directly responding to Slaughter's piece, too. I'll just call out a couple that were posted by the Harvard Business Review, as evidence that this is becoming part of the mainstream discussion in the business world: Stew Friedman writes about how work-life balance is a business performance issue, not a "women's issue", and Tony Schwartz provides some interesting historical perspective, writing about his mother's reception when she made arguments similar to Slaughter's.

Let's end with some funny stuff: The Slate DoubleX department, which I'll confess normally makes me a little annoyed, had a funny infographic of the advice from the Atlantic to women.  And this xkcd cartoon is awesome. Be sure to read the mouseover tool tip- it is the best part.


  1. Anonymous5:16 AM

    I stream really bad video (usually badly dubbed anime) in the background when I'm doing boring data work. I find that if my mind isn't somewhat occupied then I just cannot stay focused. (If I always had RAs then I would never have to do this.) Today I'm looking forward to catching up on the Daily Show while doing a completely mindless data task while the fam is out running errands in the summer heat. (I actually have background interference keyed to the level of thinking: hard thinking = silence, somewhat hard thinking while writing = The King's Singers cds that I only listen to while writing, less hard thinking = streaming performance today, rarely need to think = badly dubbed anime, no thinking at all = comedy central or catch up on NPR.) My RAs, when I have them, generally just listen to their mp3s while doing munge work.

    re: oil and garlic's post, I think apple pie and the universe had an interesting twist with her I am a ____ meme.

  2. Anonymous7:58 AM

    p.s. Love the infographic on the Atlantic. (Also: not a big fan of Sandra Tsing Loh in any format, whether she's complaining about cheating on her husband or short-selling her house etc. Not who I would go to for advice on how to live my life. But I can see how she fits in with the Atlantic.)

  3. Thanks for linking to my post!
    Sidenote: A Cup of Jo is doing a work/balance/mom series..thought you might be interested in checking that out.

  4. Love the comment about not doing crafts! I'm pretty sure that won't be the type of mom I am, either! And why should it be? My mom never did stuff like that, and I don't think I would've wanted her to. But I follow some mommy blogs, and it's easy to forget I don't want to make myself over into those people. (I think they are worth following for other reasons, which is why I started reading them even before becoming a mommy.)


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