My Work is My Life. Is That a Problem?
I distinctly remember having a conversation with someone about how much time I dedicate to my work. "Get a life and stop working so much," this person implored me.
But there's a fundamental problem with that advice: My work is my life. I enjoy my projects, and technology enables me to easily integrate my work and personal life. The notion of leaving work at work is a remnant of the industrial revolution. Most of us are paid to think, and you just can't shut it off when you walk out the office door each evening. That's why some of my greatest business breakthroughs happen when I am not "at work."
I was reminded of this conversation when I came across an article in Wake Up, branding and marketing agency Omelet's online publication. The article is by Anna Nesser, who is an account supervisor at the agency, and her article focuses on the idea that work-life balance is a myth.
Anna shared the following story:
"A couple of weeks ago I was at my mother's home in Florida, sipping coffee at the kitchen table while waiting for a Thanksgiving pie to finish baking. Oh, and I also happened to be on a conference call with my creative team in L.A. and clients in New York.
Working in account management means I'm nearly always on, and yes, that includes the occasional working vacation. My folks might argue that I'm doing it wrong; that I should be creating more of a balance between my work-life and my life-life. But I see it differently. In a world where the lines between work and play are blurry at best, developing a sense of balance between the two is no longer the goal--integration is.
We're constantly connected, not just by our devices, but also by our incessantly churning, always-buzzing minds. They don't exactly have an off switch. And that's a good thing--ideation requires lateral thinking, and unlike task-oriented work, ideas can, and should, be born anywhere, anytime."
I was intrigued to see what her bosses thought of her article, so I reached out to Don Kurz, Omelet's Chairman and CEO, to get his thoughts.
Don agrees with Anna that there's never really been a distinction between his work and personal life. For him, he says, "It's not a conscious decision; it's visceral and just part of my DNA at this point."
He shared a story of a dinner he had with friends while in Aspen skiing with his wife. "One of our dinner companions was a close friend who recently left Warner Bros. This friend had just gone out on his own and is now looking for additional opportunities. Turns out that what he's doing may fit right in to Omelet's intellectual property goals and so we started pursuing his potential fit at Omelet. It would have been inconceivable to say, 'I'm sorry, we're having dinner now so let's speak when I get home and organize a time for you to visit.' It was an organic, successful business conversation and it just happened to be in the middle of vacation."
I couldn't agree more. I love the fact that the today's technology allows me to continue to move my work along, and make it better, even when I am not at the office. So please don't tell me to get a life.