There’s no such thing as work-life balance anymore.
What remains is work, and then squeezing in a few moments of life.
That’s the impression you might get if you work at Twitter, a place run by someone who is widely known to work constantly – 100 hours a week or more.
Unfortunately, while Elon Musk has the luxury of being impervious to lay-offs, the rest of us are not so lucky. A project manager named Esther Crawford became a social media sensation not long ago when she revealed how she would often sleep on the floor in her office. Now, she revealed she has been fired.
Okay, let me pause here for a moment. If you are sleeping on the floor of an office, please re-evaluate your life choices. There is more to life than work, no matter how much you are paid. Also, it doesn’t produce results. Crawford says she has no regrets about working so hard, but I can’t help but wonder if there is anything she could have done differently to keep her job.
Probably not. Being good at work means you might get a raise, you will accomplish great things and might even increase your self-worth, but if your position is not needed anymore, it won’t matter where you sleep or how hard you work. An old boss of mine used to say, it’s not how hard you work it’s how smart you work. Hours in the office don’t count. For me, this is an issue of work taking over our lives.
Is there a better way to live? That’s where my thoughts drifted.
I think there’s one obvious problem. Strangely, the plastic devices we once called smartphones have made us dumb workers. All they have to do is chime at us and we suddenly stop everything. I hope there are no engineers out there who are inventing new bridge materials or life-saving innovations who have a “smartphone” that dings and chimes, bringing their ground-breaking work to a halt. I tend to keep mine on a charger when I am working on a computer during the day.
It started with notifications on our phones, but lately it has all gotten out of hand. The phones are distracting us to the point where we can barely work. I wrote a book about productivity that came out early last year, and one of my discoveries is that notifications and other intrusions are actually destroying the flow of work rather than enhancing it. (By the way: I highly recommend doing two quick things to improve your work-life balance right now and boost productivity. First, turn off all notifications and then delete any apps that intrude on your day.)
Is there a solution to working all the time?
I would say one big tip is to make some hard choices about work and what it means in the modern age. Start by setting normal hours. Then, after deleting unnecessary apps that are only distracting you and disabling notifications, it might be good to do some soul-searching, Why do you work so much in the first place? How often do you get distracted? Do you keep working after you leave the office? Why is that?
Asking those questions can at least bring some clarity about what is motivating you to work so hard and if that is effective. Is it something about success or proving you have value? Could you set aside work in the evening and literally achieve just as much by working smarter during the day? I even wonder if we could all achieve more if we stopped working all day long and thought more about our motivations.
What we might discover is that there is more to life than work. At that point, maybe we’ll stop tapping on our phones and open our eyes to what really matters.