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On maintaining a work-life balance

Many of you know that I participated in the IT Leaders Program in 2006-2007. Seems like such a long time ago, yet still very recent. I stay in touch with many folks from that program, including Jim Bruce (one of the mentors in the program.) Jim sends out a "Weekly Reading" email to the ITLP graduates. Earlier, Jim pointed me to a great article/interview with Jim Collins, Good to Great Expectations on getting to the next level, that appeared in BusinessWeek Online back on August 14, 2008. The aim was to have Collins translate some of his popular concepts to today's workplace. And, he does. Collins has seven thoughts that hold a lot of value:

  1. Create your own "personal board of directors" for insight when wrestling with tough questions.
  2. Make the choice to have a work-life balance.
  3. Manage your time, not your work.
  4. Build into your calendar time to think.
  5. Create a climate where truth is heard.
  6. If you produce exceptional work, your ability for influence is very high.
  7. Find a way to have younger people in your face all the time and learn from them.

Take some time and think about how you might put one or two of these into practice!

I especially loved this quote:

You've got to admit, though, that technology has made it [life-work balance] harder today.

I don't think it's obviously harder today at all. Technology helps, not hurts, as long as you have the discipline to turn these things off. You don't report to your BlackBerry.

"You don't report to your BlackBerry" is a great quote to keep in mind. It applies equally well to any method of accessing email. Too often, I see evidence of people doing work email late into the evening. We need to manage our email, not let our email manage us, or we won't have a life-work balance, and the organization will be filled with burn-outs.