Another week, another inspirational nugget and technical article.
Inspirational Nugget of the Week
Integrate Work into Your Life
When it comes to work/life balance, there are two extremes: you can separate your work and personal life at all cost, or you can merge them into one, not knowing where work ends and personal life starts. Both extremes are not healthy, in my opinion.
Separating work from personal life creates pressure. If your work requires you to put in an extra hour, you either feel bad because you've sacrificed an hour of your personal time for work, or you feel bad because you had to stop working and couldn't finish your tasks.
Merging work with personal life without any boundaries creates pressure, too. Things happen in personal life and work, requiring instant attention, and there are no rules in place to prioritize one over the other. This leads to frustration because you're always pulled out of one into the other.
The sweet spot is somewhere in between. It's not about "separating your work from your life" - this phrase doesn't even make any sense because work is part of your life. It's about integrating your work into your life in a way that allows you to be at ease with both aspects of your life.
Integrating work and personal life in a way that you're at ease with is especially important when working from home, as has become the new normal for knowledge workers.
Make time for personal errands: The most important thing, I believe, is to allow yourself some time to do personal stuff during the day. Everyone has tasks to do in their personal lives: getting groceries, doing household chores, working out. If you separate work and personal things completely, you will only have time for these before or after work. How much easier would it be to just do them during the work day? This relieves you of thinking "I have to do this after work" and the pressure that comes with that. Think about which errands need doing today and integrate them into your schedule. Then, put your work around them.
Make time for deep work: On the other hand, don't let personal errands control your day. Block a session or two a day for deep work. Allow yourself 1-2 hours at a time for work, and nothing else. This allows you to get "into the zone" where you are most productive. After such a session, your brain needs a break, so let yourself do something else, like one of those personal errands.
Block time in your calendar: Use you calendar for what it was made ... to plan your day. Block slices of time for deep work and for the errands you plan for the day. Plan out the next day each evening. This will put your mind at ease for the night, because it knows everything has been thought of. It also allows you to use the next morning for focused work instead of planning the day.
Manage expectations: Having all the things in the calendar helps to manage expectations to your co-workers. I don't even mark personal calendar items as "private" (unless it's something really private), so that my co-workers explicitly know that I'm doing a personal errand. This way, they don't even ask if that time is available. In any case, let your co-workers know that you're unavailable during your personal errands, and, if necessary, schedule some time during which you're approachable.