I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I say something about work/life balance many times a month. It’s said during interviews, company meetings and also as a cautionary tale to people who are stretching themselves too thin.
The secret: it’s all a lie.
Since the beginning of this company, it’s been almost impossible to split the line between something Dyn and not Dyn. Things are just too much fun. Don’t get me wrong: I do stuff that isn’t Dyn. There are hobbies that I partake in and other organizations I support, so the company doesn’t get 100% of my waking moments but it’s more than a normal work week.
What is true is that a 9-5 work schedule is obsolete.
To think that all of our colleagues can confine their work life to that window is silly. Some things (traditional banks, schools, etc) take place within those hours, but what’s expected of this new work environment is that people can be smart about the balance. Leave early one day, do stuff early the next day. It’s a newer paradigm as you’re always working but at least it is constantly something in the way.
The millennial generation are also facing this conflict in who they are. Their personal identities are wrapped up in what they do professionally. That means individuals who are vested in their profession merge their corporate mission with their personal narrative. They want to be successful (in their own definition) and that identity will trump any balance.
In a startup or any non-complacent organization, you make your own success and dig your own grave by what you do and leave undone.
There may only be 168 hours in a week, but when you cannot tell the difference between work and play, it must all be play. As an experiment, track your week by the half or quarter hour. Take the time out during the day when you spend time on Facebook or Twitter talking to friends and include the time you spend on LinkedIn talking to clients. How does your week break up? We only have 168 hours every seven days and it’s a question of how ruthlessly we manage our time.