Fast forward 20 years, and because technology has ensured that we are now all connected twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and twelve months of the year, this connectivity has given rise to the mantra of the necessity of maintaining a healthy "work-life" balance. It's a nice theory, and one that keeps life coaches in business and most of us feeling guilty but, in reality, it remains as nonsensical a notion today as it was two decades ago.
Kim Scott, in her book Radical Candor, states: "Don't think of it as work-life balance, some kind of zero sum game where anything you put into your work robs your life and anything that you put into your life robs your work". Instead, she says that what we have now is not an either/or but rather it is an integration of work and life throughout our entire day.
I call it grazing. Around our house, mornings begin somewhere between 5-5:30 with the obligatory scanning of our overnight emails - not uncommon on the west coast - with quick replies or flags to be looked at later. Then comes ironing, making lunches, dragging our boys out of bed, etc. You know the drill. There might be one more quick check to see if someone has called in sick and then off we go.
Once we get to our respective schools the workday unfolds in the usual fashion, but I try to build some "life" into the work. Going for a run, having a coffee with a colleague, taking the dog to the vet's or making the occasional Subway trek to take a special lunch to the boys' schools all find their way into my day. I find that as long I prioritize my work, and work smart, everything gets done - not by 5 pm - but by bedtime. You see, if I graze a little life at work, I also graze a little work at home. If my wife and I go out for a glass of wine, it is not long before the conversation drifts to a consideration of a challenge that one of us is facing at school, or an initiative that we have heard about, or might want to introduce. Our kitchen counter becomes a de facto home office where one of us prepares dinner while the other one works on a powerpoint - yapping to each other the whole time about school, or kids, or weekend plans. It all just kind of blends together.
You see, we both enjoy our work and are committed to making it as meaningful and as rewarding as we can. And, we love our family life and value every minute that we spend with our sons and each other. Because, at the end of the day, there is still time for going on hikes with the dog, enjoying Little League baseball games, swim meets, dance shows and play productions while, coincidentally, getting reports written, presentations polished, and emails responded to.
In the final analysis, even though we live on the side of a spectacular North Shore mountain, we have imported an amalgam of our Toronto/Montreal psyches. We live to work and we work to live. We are grazers of the first order!