Discovering Work Life Balance

Brad Feld has a brilliant post on his blog. It is so much more relevant in today’s day and age.

As I discovered what balance meant to me, the rules evolved into a set of habits which – among others – include (1) Spend Time Away, (2) Life Dinner, (3) Segment Space, (4) Be Present, and (5) Meditate. Following are examples of each:

Spend Time Away: Amy and I take a week long vacation each quarter (which we fondly refer to as “Qx Vacation” depending on which quarter of the year it is) where we completely disappear. No cell phone, no email, no computer, no conference calls – my assistant knows how to find me in case of an emergency; otherwise I’m completely unavailable for the week.

Life Dinner: We have a standing date on the first day of every month that we call life dinner. Occasionally we’ll invite friends; often we have dinner alone. We have a ritual where we give each other a gift ranging in value from nominal / silly (a fart machine) to expensive / romantic (jewelry). We spend the evening talking about the previous month and about the month to come, grounding ourselves in our current reality.

Segment Space: We have two homes – one in the mountains of Boulder, Colorado and one in the small town of Homer, Alaska. Both have nice office areas which are clearly separated from the rest of the house. We only have telephones in the offices and, by some delightful fluke of nature, our cell phones don’t work in our Boulder house. We treat our houses as a retreat from the world and, while we do plenty of working at home, where we do this is separate and distinct from the rest of the house.

Be Present: One of Amy’s lines to me is “Brad – be a person.” This is a signal to me that I’m not present in the moment, that something is troubling me, or simply that I’m tired. Whenever I’m not present, it only takes a short phrase to pull me back from wherever I’ve drifted off to.

Meditate: I use the word meditate metaphorically – everyone should meditate their own way. Four years ago I became a marathoner – the 6 to 10 hours a week I run is my current form of meditation. I’m also a voracious reader and the 10 hours a week I read extends my meditation time. Do whatever you want, but spend some of your time on yourself.