Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Struggles Of Work / Life Balance

I'm a season ticket holder for our local professional basketball team and split the tickets among a group of people.  So, for my friends, they take their significant others OR other friends they know from church or other social groups  

For me, since I am not married nor do I currently have a girlfriend, I knew I had to find people to take to the games.  I had several friends in mind but not all the plans come to fruition.  The main problem is that the games are sometimes on weeknights which make it difficult for people to go.  Fortunately, my mom is around.  Since she is retired and likes basketball, I ended up just taking her instead.

However, for this particular weekend, I had a Sunday game with a marquee team and player coming into town.  There was one friend (call her Friend A) who I wanted to take.  She wanted to go but the timing (Sunday evening) would be tough because she had to work the next day.  Of course, I have to work too but I can deal with it better than others since I typically have more energy than many people I know.

So I had to go to a backup plan with another friend (Friend B).  This friend had already went to a game about a month ago.   While there was going to be some logistical things I had to address with this friend about the game, I figured it would be worth the effort.

Alas, all the plans got shot down.  Just like Friend A, Friend B has work issues.  Alas, Friend B's work issues were a little more pressing.  She was put on call for this weekend out of the blue and could not commit to making the game.

I admit to being frustrated at the time we talked.  This had nothing to do with Friend B and more so with the fact that it's just been one BUSY week for me.  I have had evening activities this ENTIRE week and not much downtime to myself.  While it's enjoyable, I haven't had much a chance to recharge.   Friend B's situation just muddled matters.  With me being tired already, I wasn't too thrilled to have think about what to do for the game.

After taking a nap to recharge, I feel better and thought I need to address the issue of work / life balance because of what I went through with my friends the past couple of days.

For me, work / life balance has always been important.  In the years I've been in the workforce, I've always done my 40 (and sometimes more) hours.   But after work, I've always had activities.  It could be something simple like just going to the gym to workout or hitting a bookstore to read which take a small amount of time.  Alternatively, I officiate, play or go watch basketball.

For Friend A, work dominates her life though she doesn't seem to mind and she cuts small time for herself to take walks.  I wasn't surprised at her for not attending the game.   Her life is structured around work and you have to fit into her schedule.  It's not always easy to do that.

Friend B isn't anything like Friend A.  In fact, Friend B is probably more like me in that work/life balance is important.   The major difference with Friend B and me?  Her work schedule is currently Tuesday through Saturday PLUS she works in an environment that operates 24 hours a day.

Thus, that is why Friend B's situation came up and I believe that is a source of resentment for her.  On one hand, you have to do the job you currently have.  On the other hand, she's already losing one weekend day.  Plus this weekend, our plans got shot down just because she MIGHT have to do work on one of her days off.

Since I am calmer about the situation now, I advised Friend B to start looking for a job that is Monday to Friend and does not operate 24 hours a day.    I am not thrilled that Friend B's job is going to make her miss the game Sunday.  We talk a lot but don't see each other much so any opportunity to see her is welcome.

But beyond that, work / life balance is important.  You need time to yourself and the fact is work is not everything.   Yes, we all need to earn money to support ourselves.  But work should not override your own personal time that you need for yourself.   Considering I know Friend B very well, this personal time is much needed, maybe more so than maybe your average person.

I went through what Friend B is experiencing now early in my career and I am quite understanding of what her situation is.  I worked in call centers with odd schedules like Thursday through Monday.  Fortunately, as time went on and I got seniority, I was able to get myself out of those odd schedules.  My current job is just Monday through Friday though I have to deal with odd hours every now and then.

All in all, I don't envy what Friend B has to deal with.  It's not fun.  For everyone reading, do what you need to do at work.  But make time for yourself and also try to avoid working on your days off.  All in all, I think it will allow you to enjoy your life much more.

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