Originally published on December 14, 2017
So last week I spoke about how I love my work but I love my free time more. My advice, I said, was to figure out what you love to do and then find a way to get paid for that. While this is true and advice I will give to my own children one day when they are old enough to work, that is not the only advice I would give them. If they are like me, the issue is not about rescuing Monday, it’s about rescuing balance. I am not someone who needs to be told or prodded to do my work. I’m someone who needs to be reminded, cajoled, and even scolded to stop doing my work. In fact, as I was writing this, my daughter was talking to me while I was wearing headphones to block her out so I can focus on this. This is unhealthy—maybe unhealthier than if I hated my work.
Usually when I write my Letters I try to share something that I have thought about, read, or learned; I have answers. This is not one of those letters. While I have indeed thought and read about how to find balance, I have not yet been successful. I have tried to make myself more efficient and effective. I know there are people with “tickler” files where they have a file per day and it helps them to organize their time and work but that is not something that I have needed. I know there are people who have good boundaries about leaving work at a particular time or not doing work at home until a certain time or after the kids go to bed. I once saw an interview of Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, where she said something about leaving work no later than 5:30 every day to which I say both “I applaud her!” and “How does she do that?!”
While I am a much better mother because I work (I promise you, I would make a really, really bad stay-at-home mom) I would be a much better mother if I figured out how to do less work at home. And, that doesn’t mean that I should stay later in the office and hide my work—it means that I should work just as hard at being more efficient with my work as I do at doing my work. I am sure that I would also be a better wife, friend, and overall human being. That’s because it is human to need and crave a time for things other than work.
So, this is not a letter where I share all my pearls of wisdom, but it’s a letter where I share that pearls form because of the irritation caused by the small grain of sand that becomes calcified over time. Thus, with any hope, my small irritation can become a pearl in the near future.