Perfectly balanced...as all things should be

My idea of work-life balance

This incident has occurred many times over the past few months with me in one form or the other: A 40-something-year-old engineer who works in the US market puts out a tweet saying that one should not code more than 8 hours a day. A student sends me a  screenshot of the tweet saying that this guy recommends 8 hours of coding every day, why should I work any more?  I believe what we are missing out here is context.

Page 1 vs Page 20

The person who tweets that coding more than 8 hours a day is not necessary is not wrong on his part. He is financially stable, has decades of experience, and has a great job. You do not. You are a 22-year-old who has just graduated. You want promotions and the chance to work for better companies. You still need financial stability. And that is why you need to hustle and spend time other than the office on making yourself better. If you compare the life of the successful guy when he was 22, you would not find it very different from yours. The people who give out pieces of advice when they are 40 are the ones who have persevered in their 20s. You need to remember that.

My understanding

Work-life balance is difficult to explain and let's say, controversial because it means a different thing to every person.

I like to divide this idea into 3 parts - office work, own work, and leisure. Office work is when I work for Microsoft. Leisure is when I relax, spend time with my family, read books, and alike. What's my "own" work? Just like everyone else, I have ambitions in my life. And depending on those ambitions, I spend this time doing things that would push me forward in that direction. Suppose my ambition is to get a promotion at Microsoft. I would spend this time learning and improving my skillset that would lead me to the promotion quicker. If I wanted to become a musician, I would spend this time practicing music. It all depends on what your ambition is. And based on your goals, you need to find your work-life balance.

In tier 3 cities, such as Bokaro, where I grew up, we call work "duty". People have a relaxed attitude. You work in the Bokaro Steel Plant for 8 hours, then relax: watch TV, chit chat, and enjoy your life. In government jobs, the idea of rapid growth isn't there. But in private the more you hustle the more you grow.

So, decide what your ambition is. And based on that ambition, figure out what works for you. Finish your office work, do your "own" work that helps you achieve your goals, whatever they may be, and then leisure. 

See you next Wednesday

I hope this letter brought some clarity to you. Share it with friends and family and help them find their work-life balance. And do remember to mark this address as "important" so that you don't miss out on future issues!