When Molly asked me if I would write something for her blog, my first thought was, “What excuse can I come up with to get out of this?!” Then, after about 30 seconds of soul-searching, I knew I had to do it. See, the problem is… I love my work!
As a kid, I loved making models. I built model airplanes and hung them from the ceiling in my bedroom, complete with cotton trailing behind them like smoke. Making models was challenging and fun, and I never lost the joy of building things.
My first career was as a recording engineer. I recorded music for TV and radio commercials. Again, I was building something, although it was less tangible than physical objects; I was building an audio environment.
After 25 years as an engineer, I decided to make a change. I loved engineering, but I missed making something of my own. So I struck out on my own as a FileMaker developer, not even knowing if there was a market for such a thing.
Now, over 20 years later, I still wake up every morning eager to work. I have a small stable of loyal clients who I have worked with for many years. I’ve learned a lot about their businesses along the way, and we have come to depend on each other.
So what’s the problem? In a nutshell… balance.
My work isn’t really work; it’s more like work/play. I’m one of the lucky few who gets paid to do what they enjoy. Consequently, I don’t feel much urgency to take time out to do other things. When Friday night comes around, I don’t usually have much planned for the weekend. Since I work from home, it’s tempting to just stay in work mode. But I’m trying to get out more.
Yesterday I went on the Evanston Garden Walk during the day and had my neighbors over for a barbecue at night. The only thing I went online for was to get my map of the gardens. A whole day away from the computer, I even got some sun!
Same for lunchtime. I usually eat at my desk, but I’m trying to change that. So I’ve been walking or riding my bike to Whole Foods, getting a healthy lunch at the salad bar, and eating there. It’s a small thing, but it makes a big difference in my day. And I feel a bit less like a hermit. 😉
I’ve also taken more time off to travel, with an emphasis on more frequent trips of shorter duration, rather than one long trip. Recent trips have included Cancun for 4 days; The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin, for one night; Starved Rock, Illinois, for one night; and Minneapolis for two nights. Just getting away for even one night brings a renewed appreciation for the “real” world.
And finally, I got a bit of a wake-up call from my doctor. He said I need to lower my intake of carbs and lose at least 15 pounds. So I’ve cut out carbs completely, and I row for 30 minutes in the morning at least 5 days a week. I’ve dropped 20 pounds so far, and I feel great! I still have more to lose, and I know I can do it.
So, in summary, here’s my recipe for a better work/life balance:
- Cut out the carbs and exercise every morning.
- Walk or bike to lunch outside the office.
- Schedule weekend activities to stay away from the computer.
- Take more short trips.
These are all pretty simple things to do… they just need doing! Maybe I should make a database to keep track of my progress… NOT! 😉