People of Prolific: Work/Life Balance
“What’s Your Idea of Work-Life Balance?” This is the big question, right? All of us are on a device all the time, so how do you disconnect in a way that matters? Or unplug in a way that makes a difference?
Work Hard to Rest Easy
In a dream world, I’d spend a lot more time on the lake in Minnesota, fishing with my family. But that’s a hell of a commute, so I make due with a cup of coffee on my patio. As far as day-to-day, I’m learning that earlier mornings make earlier nights home, so I try to get going right off the bat every day. I schedule meetings at the start of the day so things don’t drag out. I try to maximize my time in the office so my downtime at home feels earned– if I’m not productive at the office and then try to go home and relax, it just doesn’t work. There’s a low hum of tension and I can’t shake it.
On my commute home, I try to slowly turn my work brain off. I listen to podcasts, but nothing serious or work-related; I’ll read a light book. I try to take advantage of the transition time so I’m ready to get into my personal life.
Giving Your Brain a Break
When I get home I stop checking email. If someone really needs me, I know they’ll call. But I’ve also noticed that it’s really hard for me to just “shut off” and do whatever it is you’re supposed to do when you relax. So I do things that keep my brain engaged but in a different way. I play video games– sci-fi or fantasy, something that doesn’t touch my real life– and consume other media that’s light and takes my mind off of work.
Stepping Away to Recharge
My team and the overall culture at Prolific is really great about respecting time off. If you need to step away or take some time off the grid, they’ll work with you to make it happen. I know a lot of other companies don’t do the same, and I feel really lucky that I never have to arm wrestle someone to take a day or two off. Obviously, you need to be smart and respectful about it– I’m not going to try to get away when there’s a big project on deck that I’m responsible for– but sometimes you just need to take a break to get your head back in the game.
My wife and I are about to have our first baby, and I know having this figured out is going to be even more important when I have a family at home. Life happens, things come up at work, but if you’ve been actively taking care of yourself, you’re going to feel like a better human and be a better employee.
I’m a designer, so being able to access my creativity and keep that flow going is huge. When I’m burnt out or just haven’t been taking the time I need to recharge and turn my brain off, it gets harder and harder for me to have good ideas. But when I prioritize getting rest, focus on things outside of work, and just generally put in the effort to have a well-rounded life, it’s a lot easier to have a creative flow that’s productive and interesting.
For me, work-life balance is about being engaged wherever you are. If you’re at work, be there and be focused. Do your job and do it well. Use your commute time to transition, so when you’re home, you’re in-it-to-win-it there, too. You can relax and focus on relationships and all the things you spend all day working for anyway.
**This genesis of this post was an interview I had with Product Disrupt Blog earlier this month.