work/life balance

March 9, 2011

live to work or work to live?
(or neither?) ahh, work/life balance . . . that elusive yet oh-so-trendy concept in this ‘you can do it all!’ era. when i asked for post topic requests a little while ago, rachel suggested i write a post on this popular (but potentially polarizing!) subject.

the reason i think it’s so polarizing is that i see two camps. on the one hand, i know that there are people (Camp A?) who just truly live to work. for some of these people, they are so genuinely into their work that work becomes life, and therefore the concept of work/life balance doesn’t even really apply. it’s already balanced — they are doing what they love, and if the wheels don’t stop spinning even well after business hours, that’s okay.

i admire these people, but i am not one of them. i may be type A, but i land squarely in Camp B territory. i would not say that i work to live (or even live for the weekend), but i crave work-free time in my schedule. this is why even while working 80 hour weeks and 30 hour shifts, i clung desperately to the OTHER things in life: running, this blog, friends, and of course, sleep, when i could fit it in.

flash forward to fellowship. i may whine about call (though i’m really trying not to!!), but i’m not going to lie: overall, my current life is an absolute cakewalk compared to residency.

for one, i actually like what i do at work — almost all of it! i think it’s interesting, rewarding, and fun. second, the hours are so much easier. i sign onto the pager at 8, get to arrive at work around 8:30, and work until around 5:30. . . and then i’m done. i am on call for a full week (168 hours o’ fun!) every 3-4 weeks and during research months, just every 4th weekend. there are times that i have to spend time on projects at home — last weekend, for example, i finished a journal club presentation on metformin, which took a few solid hours.

current snapshot of work vs. life!
you might have noticed that i have not been discussing what i have been studying each night after work these days (it was 2011 resolution #1, after all!). the reason for this is because . . . i haven’t been. and i’ve decided to be fine with that.

as you all know, i have gone through some stuff this year. and somehow, as a result, i’ve sort of re-evaluated my priorities. one day, i decided that i wanted to work hard while at work, and then be done upon going home at the end of the day (hey, if it works for cal newport . . .). this could mean a bit of extra time at my office — staying until 6 instead of 5, for example — and of course, i would never leave essential patient care tasks unfinished.

but i decided to be done with “homework” (come on, i’m 30, after all!) and the blurred boundaries that come with bringing a pile of reading home with me every night. i have an in-training exam coming up in a few weeks, and if i bomb that, perhaps i will rethink my strategy. i accept that there will, of course, be times that i DO have to incorporate a focused block of study-time into my evening routine.

now, though, i’m just going to chill, and head to the yoga mat after work . . . and enjoy what i feel truly is the right work-life balance for me right now. [i know that this will change drastically as i trade the yoga mat for BABEEZ, eventually. and i am VERY okay with that!]

i realize this may be somewhat controversial in the medical/science world, where we’re ‘supposed’ to want to work 70 hour weeks. i believe i can do a good job and not do that, but if it turns out i’m wrong, then there are plenty of other careers out there.

what are your thoughts on this topic? how do you find balance, and do you feel pressured to blur your life/work margins because your boss requires it or your peers talk about it? does it make you happy? stressed? i’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

on a similar vein
so, i thought i had 15 days of vacation for the year (actually a bit less than residency, because back then we had 3 weeks + 6 days built in for xmas or new years).

but it turns out there are really 20. however, i can only use them during research months. and i am pretty sure i cannot roll them over into next year (though i’m looking into that). so do i turn my 1 week break in may into TWO!?

the thought boggles my mind, because i haven’t had more than a week off in a row since med school! 2 weeks sounds so luxurious, and we may be moving to durham at that point, so it would be nice timing [i would have time to go all apartment therapy on our new digs!].

but: i feel guilty about doing this for some reason. because it would shorten my (brief) stint in the lab, and it seems oddly decadent. thoughts?

decisions, decisions!
i’m full of questions today! the most pressing: do i try the intermediate/advanced class, or will i get my ass kicked?

though i would consider myself just barely ‘intermediate’ (and NOT advanced), i think i might try it — after all, worst comes to worst it will be too hard and i won’t go back for a while!



workout: ~20 minutes weights in the AM [NROL4W phase 1, week 4, workout B]; 75 minute power/yin class in the PM (ve-e-e-ry stretchy but not much of a workout)

omelette night: ie: chef joshua’s time to shine!

and shine he did. ‘inside-out’ omelette with mushrooms and gruyere + local broccoli + (non local) pita chips

meditation: 10 minutes x 1, just before heading to yoga! it definitely felt significantly longer than 5 minutes did.

today’s excavation ?:

what is my most meaningful creation in life? is it my work, my family, myself?

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