I’ve been reviewing a number of time logs lately as part of the Mosaic project (want to participate? See here for details). I’m doing a workshop next month for a group of financial planners, who all kept track of their time for me. I’ve been intrigued to see that a few members of this high-earning crew have intentionally scheduled their lives to take one weekday mostly — or fully — off.
Some of this is the nature of the job. As a financial planner, much of your job involves meeting regularly with clients and reviewing asset allocation and goals. If you elect not to open Friday up to meetings, then you can simply not be available then. If you wind up with enough clients that they fully fill your available hours, you can not take on new clients. There is an income trade off, of course, but it’s a relatively straightforward income trade off. These planners can work fewer hours, and still make good money, so they do.
So is this a strategy to recommend broadly in the interest of work-life balance? I have a few thoughts and caveats. While a day off sounds nice, it can be hard to use well, just like weekends are hard to use well. A few years ago, my childcare schedule was such that my sitter left at 1pm on Friday. My 3-year-old was in full day school, so I just had a baby with me. I thought we’d go do all sorts of fun things like museums and walks, but inevitably he’d be fussy or tired, or I’d be fussy and tired or (just as often) not actually done with my work, so I’d try to get it done while he napped.
Today, my usual sitter was off and I had a sub for a few hours (during which I ran and submitted a column). Then I had the kids from 11:30-4:30. While it would have been fun to do something, there was so much back and forth with the plumbers being there to fix a sewage system issue in our basement that I couldn’t really leave. We baked popovers (see photo, above) but didn’t make it to the zoo. Life maintenance often expands to fill the available space, and if you’re the party with a day “off” you often wind up dealing with it.
Pondering the day off concept, though, I realize that if I made it a priority, I could probably officially take a day off regularly. But here’s the issue: because of the nature of my job, I consider things that I do for the love of it, like blogging and writing fiction, to be “work.” I read books as part of my job, too. Since these are all things I’d be doing as leisure if I had a different day job, I find I’m not that interested in taking time off. If anything, I’m interested in finding more hours to do these things.
I probably should get out more regularly. I do need things to write about, and that requires filling the pot. But work life balance means different things to different people. And that’s why our schedules tend to look the way they do.