Longtime readers know I am not a huge fan of the phrase “work/life balance.” I use it, partly because that’s what people search for, and it’s something people generally understand.
But the metaphor is problematic. Work/life balance implies that work and life are on opposite sides of a scale. For one to go up, the other has to go down. It’s by its nature adversarial.
Anyway, that said, I was intrigued by a phrase that our Best of Both Worlds guest Laurie Weingart used in this week’s episode. She talked about people’s “work/work balance.”
Given her expertise, this was about breaking down your work into promotable and non-promotable tasks, and making sure that you weren’t spending inordinate amounts of time on the latter. But really, this concept could be used for many things. Any job consists of many different activities. There’s the core “stuff” of the job (which might be further broken down into various projects people do). There’s often learning and professional development. There’s network and relationship building. There’s planning and prospecting. There’s administration. There’s probably stuff that’s hard to categorize.
One reason to track working hours is to figure out what proportion is spent on each of these things. There’s no right answer, though certain categories (learning, networking) tend to get shoved to the side when things get busy. If a given category (perhaps non-promotable tasks) seems very heavy, then the balance is off and it’s time to figure out ways to change this.
I would imagine that work/work balance often influences work/life balance. I know when work feels tedious — too many tasks I don’t want to do — than I feel like I’m working too much. When I’m excited about work, I don’t feel that same way. In terms of numbers, my work/life balance might be the same either way, but it feels entirely different.
Photo: The old office. It’s been almost a year since I’ve been in there!