This week’s blog prompt over at Student Affairs Women Talk Tech asked about tech-life balance:
How has technology helped you to create balance in your career/life or caused you to become unbalanced?
But, I don’t want to talk about balance (and I’m not alone. There’s a movement away from the term “balance” to “fit,” which offers more flexibility). I’m sick of talking about balance and the implied judgement that those of who can’t find balance are somehow lacking. A recent article in PCWorld by Bruce Gain made the following point:
But where do you draw the line between work, downtime, and play? Like anything else, it’s up to the individual to determine what is right for them. I happen to enjoy my work, so checking work e-mail even on a Saturday upon waking doesn’t make me unhappy. When I don’t feel like working I ignore my work-related inbox . . . I am sure that the outcry of how work is continually encroaching on what is supposed to be downtime will only become bigger, but if you are doing what you want to do, why is the act of constantly combining work and play such a bad thing?
Exactly. I love my work. In fact, I would say that my work (both in the Women’s Center and my teaching) is absolutely central to my identity. It’s who I am. So I don’t mind working during what are supposedly non-work hours. I’m not even sure I know what non-work hours are. I’m not saying this works for everyone and, as Gains notes, it needs to be up to the individual (even I chafe a bit if I feel that my supervisors are expecting me to be constantly available). And as someone pointed out to me yesterday, knowing when to get your downtime is important, which is why most Sunday afternoons you’ll find me on the sofa reading a novel and/or napping instead of in front of the computer or attached to my iPhone.
What irritates, though, is the way the conversation around balance almost always privileges people who opt for working less and implies that those of us who come down on the “work-more” side are in the wrong. It just so happens that for me work (and that means tech in many ways) is life and I think that’s OK (I also realize that I am incredibly lucky to be able to get paid to do something I’d do for free and I am eternally grateful for that privilege). So, if I promise not to judge you for spending Saturday afternoon at your child’s soccer game sans smartphone, will you return the favor and not judge me for spending that same Saturday afternoon working on a grant proposal or grading?