Call me the countervailing point of view…
I’ve come to think that the line between “work” and the rest of my life is an artificial one. At best, it serves no real purpose and may actually interfere with my overall quality of life.
A couple of disclaimers:
- I have the sort of job that is (mostly) place and time independent. Those whose work requires them to be in a certain place at a certain time do experience an actual dividing line between that activity and the rest of their lives.
- I enjoy what I do. The work is interesting, varied and challenging. It is remunerative to the extent that I live comfortably. I’m not saying I’d keep doing it if I won the (really big) lottery, but I’m definitely not in the category of those who “work to live.” (Though I’m also not in the “live to work” category per my lottery comment).
- I’m good at compartmentalization and task switching. I (mostly) agree with the notion that multitasking is an illusion but I think I’m pretty good at picking up tasks and putting them down efficiently. Not everyone has this predisposition.
Not everyone has these assets or opportunities, but for me they’ve let me blend my life into a series of layers that are just…my life. Sometimes, the work layer is uppermost and intense and things balance in favor of that layer. When there’s something else that demands or deserves attention — a chance to talk to a friend or read a book or tap a nap — the other layers of my life come to the fore. Sometimes those rhythms are slow and languid, some days are a series of staccato moments of jumping around from one thing to another.
There are, of course, conflicts and choices that I have to make — and I’m guilty of prioritizing my work over other parts of my life — but those conflicts tend to be less sharp than they would otherwise.
Your mileage may vary, everything could change tomorrow and I’m fortunate beyond what I deserve, but I do think that the notion of drawing sharp lines around the various aspects of one’s life and trying to define when and how those breaks should be organized is worth questioning.