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My smoothie: waaaah-meeeow-puhleeze?

Anne Zelenka touches on several topics in Ch 10, “Blend your work and your personal life.? While they are tips written for web-workers, I found them very applicable to the work/personal life mix, regardless of the work location. This semester, I had my first experience as a full-time web worker. For me, the work is school, so unfortunately, some of her tips perhaps weren’t quite as useful as if I had a *real* job to deal with.

Zelenka’s section on ‘blending kids and work in the home’ (p.261) was spot on for me. I have a 4 year old daughter and a brand new baby that arrived this semester. Zelenka is right: it is nearly impossible to get any work done with a 4 year old at home. Without her child care arrangement, there is no way I could have finished the majority of my work. I still don’t know how people manage to do it – but I’m looking forward to reading the articles Zelenka cited at the end of that section. And for anyone else considering school+new baby…I wouldn’t recommend it if there is any other possible choice. For me, there was no other way to do it. And, I did. Barely. But, I’m on the brink of burnout and am ready to sleep for a few days now that the semester is over (not a possibility, sadly).

Which brings me to burnout…My unbalanced life symptom of choice. Sadly, with schoolwork, some of Zelenka’s tips are not as applicable; you can’t take a sabbatical in the middle of a semester, you can’t hibernate (unfortunately), and you can’t really unload any responsibilities (267). I was completely exhausted most of this semester, but if it weren’t for that, one could definitely engage in a side project to get the work juices flowing. I suppose that is the basis of extra-curricular activities.

Zelenka’s work-life smoothie just can’t work for everyone. For instance, as a mother you learn about windows of opportunity. When the baby goes to sleep, you must do ____. I have to force myself to use mindfulness to go straight to work, without the usual internet warm-ups (facebook, email…) – while having some free social time may be healthier, if you don’t spend the window on the real work that must be done, the window is lost.

Overall, the freedom that working online can bring for careers is a blessing. Even having one day working at home can make life more productive. As someone who takes off days during the week, I know that errands and phone calls get done in record time on a nice Tuesday morning or Wednesday afternoon. I spent a lovely stress-free afternoon at ikea on Thursday – there was almost nobody there! (Note: if you love ikea, try Thursdays at 2:00!). Even if you can’t work from home, Zelenka’s tips are useful for balancing web work and life, because most office workers are using the web at work all day long.

Comments

Hello Jessica, I have to applaud you for taking the course this semester while knowing that a baby is on the way. I remember when I first found out about it--I saw it on one of our class social networking apps--I was like ohmigosh in amazement for you taking this course and also giving birth to your newborn. I'm not sure if I could handle all of that, so definite applause to you! You had mentioned "real" job. While I think most people define "real" job as a 40-hour-a-week job, I do recognize other categories. I think being a mom is a lot of work--it's a 24 hour job. In addition, Krista who is a PhD candidate and also teaching course(s)--she's put in a ton of hours. We too as a class put in a ton of hours. Sometimes I look back at amazement on all of the material we learned and accomplished. We did that by working our behinds off. You especially are amazing for all you did this semester! :)

"Even having one day working at home can make life more productive." Life more productive - that's really the key idea. Work is at the foundation of making a living and that involves sacrifices on the personal side of things, even if the job is something you love. But, real life can be a pretty big distraction. So take the afternoon off to settle something that's in your way. Take Friday and get out of the city for a while just to relax. You have to square life and work, or they both suffer.

I'm glad you chose the precise language on this, to me it's one of the most important parts of the book and shouldn't be forgotten for anyone who's going to try to work this way.