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The Work-Life Super Class

Posted by: Michelle Conlin on June 09


They look so so good. Polished. Pressed. Accessorized. There is no late-school drop off for this crew. No weakening in front of the vending machine. Or missed deadlines. Or excuses. Or sub-par performance reviews. Or thought that isn’t elegantly articulated.

There is a sub-class of the worker species who seem all Nietzsche super class when it comes to finessing their work-life balance. They bathe. They comb their kids’ hair. They are on time. They shake it at work. That’s just how they roll. A lot of people want to be them.

Are these super humans human? Or a super myth? Is one born this way? Or can the super human work-life thing be learned?

Please tell us your tales from the work-life firing lines. We want to help our readers feel less psychotic when it comes to their work life balance. Let’s start with this: does anyone really have one?

Reader Comments


June 11, 2008 06:46 PM

I would say there are some that may do it better than others. I once had a friend who told me that defining normal is kind of like the setting on your dryer. We all have different speeds, heats, cycles, etc. We have to look at the opportunity cost of it all; "What do I have to give up in order to get?" I believe it is up to us to decide what works for us and be ready to deal with the consequences of that, whether they are good or bad.

-Kakie Fitzsimmons
VP, Founding Partner & Award Winning Author
Farmer's Hat Productions

Cali and Jody

June 12, 2008 03:54 PM

We all have the RIGHT to control our own time. If we can deliver results, who cares if we're in the OFFICE or on the MOON? The traditional work environment is broken. We're all operating like we have typewriters, mimeograph machines and 'while you were out' pink slips. Nobody should have to 'choose' or 'deal with the consequences' if they're getting the job done. Have you heard of SLUDGE? It's the toxic language that permeates every workplace that all about how people are spending their time. "I wish I had a kid so I could leave at 4:00 every day!" "10:00 and you're just getting in? Wish I could come in late everyday!" "How did Bob get a promotion? He's never even HERE". This language is all about TIME, and not about work. We need to eradicate this toxic language so that each person can move about freely in their lives without feeling guilty and stressed out. No more fancy telecommuting programs that stigmatize everyone that uses them. It's time for BIG CHANGE so we can all LIVE our LIVES instead of trying to 'balance' them.

Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson
Creators of the Results-Only Work Environment

One Who's Paid the Price of True Balance

June 13, 2008 11:42 AM

What passes for work-life balance in my organization is a sham. The same leadership team who speak about balance are not exactly role models. They all work extended schedules often extending their time in the office until 6 or 7 at night, and look down on those who do not emulate their behavior including discriminating against them when it comes to advancement opportunities. Observing that they are the "outliers" when it comes to balance buys you an invitation to leave the organization if you don't like it as their recommendation to achieve balance.

adrien normand

June 17, 2008 11:49 AM

I think the way you balance your personal life with your work is absolutely wonderful. People are losing time with family for the simple fact that there is no balance. It also works when your spouse or companion is in it with you and is completely supportive of what you are trying to do for you and your family. Keep it up and be an example for couples all over the world. It is possible to work hard and still keep your family a priority.

Ben Deinde

June 18, 2008 09:47 AM

The balance swings depending on your live projects - when your workload is light, you get to see more of your family, and on the other hand, when you're overloaded, you probably don't see them at all.

The balance should be in the swing,then work-life will be balanced.

Isaac Chowrimootoo

June 19, 2008 03:01 PM

Work- life balance should be driven by your passion. Passion for work, family and pleasure/leisure. Find your calling and have great fun pursuing it.Integrate work with family activities. Have lunch with your spouse at least once per week. Attend your children/grandchildren swimming lessons/school activities. Find the joy in whatever you do. Do not see these activities as chores.
Have fun and enjoy life. Remember Tim Russert. Live for today. Make the fullest use of today.

Sarah Lafferty

June 20, 2008 09:44 AM

Work/life balance is a lot more than segmenting your day into tidy compartments. It starts with having a genuine passion for your work. When you hate your job or find it boring, a large part of your brain is pre-occupied full-time on negative emotions like dread, fear, anger and resentment. When you have to live with these emotions all the time, you always have the feeling that work is taking over your life. Even when you're not spending too much actual time working. You can also really burden your partner because when he does see you, you are not happy, but full of woe and stress. Therefore any hope of 'quality' time goes out the window. I see this very clearly now because I am very happy in my job. I often work quite long hours and dip into things on evenings and weekends. But that's not because I feel like I have to, but that I'm in full flow and I'm really enjoying some project that I'm working on. My husband doesn't mind because he sees that I'm really enjoying what I'm doing and he's interested too. Another really important thing that I learned is that you can learn to completely control how you react to negative people and situations. Most people don't realise it, but they create their own stress. I had to learn all this the hard way, through a couple of really bad experiences but I now I think I understand really what this work/life balance thing is all about.


June 21, 2008 04:27 PM

When I lived in Europe, had many vacation days, holidays and separate sick time (which I didn't need but knew was there) I was a happy and effective worker. I was known as a hard worker and stayed later if necessary to finish something. I always had enough free time to catch a break, do necessary errands and relax. Here is the US my work ethic has been totally corroded. Work doesn't seem to be about getting work done, only minutes on the clock and not deviating from official worktime, Leaving early or taking a phone call are reasons for immediate termination. There are no social coffee breaks, which were holy in my home country. If I left my workplace today, I would not keep in touch with anyone there or miss it. I don't feel that I have any value as a person in my American workplace.

laurie friedman, IBM

June 22, 2008 03:35 PM

Work life programs afford people a more realistic quality of life. More than 40% of IBM employees work virtually and it remains a key reason people like to work at IBM. It's an important way for a company to attract and retain employees, from Gen Yers to near-retirees with important skills. But think of the flip side: imagine the talent that companies are sacrificing by not giving employees more flexibility at work. IBM recently announced the fastest computer in the world (called "Roadrunner") but here's the backstory: the woman who led all the software development for this gigantic undertaking is a soccer mom who almost walked away from her career because she had to move back home to take care of an ailing parent. There's no IBM office there, and she'd have to work out of a bedroom, leading a big team of software engineers across the U.S. Given the fact that flexible work options have been part of IBM's culture since the 1980s, her boss was more than supportive, so she stayed and completed the project. Obviously not every employee can do this - someone who works in manufacturing can't very well do their job from their house. But for many knowledge workers, an organization that offers the right combination of management support, collaborative tools and an environment of trust can make a difference between happily staying with an organization or walking out the door.


June 27, 2008 04:11 PM

I believe work-life balance is an All-American concept created by people who compartmentalize every minute of their day. They believe they have to be at work everyday 8-4 or 9-5 and when there just work every secoond of their time, in fact even eat lunch at desk while working. What more treat colleagues as that and have no way of looking them as friends whom to share a laugh with. And feelings and emotions are best hidden deep inside while in office as they are just resources and not human beings. This robotic-routine will definitely make any person yearn for time with family and friends.

Back in my Asia, people come to office late, leave late as well, maybe spend more time than any other breed. But the time spent is well worth it. There are designated coffee breaks twice a day, a 1-hour lunch break when no-one sits at their desk, maybe noon naps of 15 mins a day and friendships made are for a lifetime, probably carried outside work by enjoying an evening spent with them. They really enjoy being at work, working, socializing and behaving naturally. Workplaces are their social haven where apart from work they live their lives fully.

One might wonder about productivity.....statistically that's far higher there than it is in US companies. And does this not sound natural, humans by nature love socializing and what better place to do it than where you spend 1/3 of your day daily. By design humans have emotions and hiding them 8hr/day is frustating and tiring. Faking what you really are, maybe even while dressing up for work (how many people in US dress at work the way they do when out with Asia its natural, dressing the same way while at work or off it) is not a natural thing to do and this does affect your mental health.

Enjoy while at work, love what you do and socialize, balance would be achieved.

Thank you for your interest. This blog is no longer active.



Cali Ressler, Jody Thompson and Brazen CareeristBest Buy HR renegades Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson and Yahoo’s “Brazen Careerist” columnist, Penelope Trunk, tell us how to juggle responsibilities without going crazy.

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