Inching Toward Simplicity: Pragmatics and Prose

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Coming up for Air


Work-life balance can be more than a corporate buzzword (see Prose below). Here are some links that focus on flexibility in your work life:

-My own state’s Department of Transportation hosts an information-packed site on telecommuting.
-Here’s a quick WebMD primer on work-life balance strategies
-This Canadian site has some great FAQs on the topic.
-Here’s the Mayo clinic’s take on the subject.
-Here’s a free self assessment on work-life balance. There’s no scoring sheet, but it seems the higher the number, the more “imbalanced” you are!
-Get Satisfied, the anthology I'm to be published in this fall, includes several stories on how people reframed their perspectives on/approaches to work. Here's the table of contents.


Last week, I did something I had never done before. I demoted myself. And I took back some of my time. I’m going from manager to just plain writer, and I will work from home most of the time.

I accepted a manager position over a year ago, and I didn’t listen to my gut (when will I ever learn?). I have often managed, I’m told quite well, but never really enjoyed it (except when I got to approve a raise!). Managing takes me away from writing and research, which I do and enjoy best. I also had to admit to myself that, above and beyond the stresses of managing, my quality of life has been withering on the vine. The pace of my job often feels relentless when mixed with the other unavoidable stresses in my life.

It was time to employ some survival tactics. I looked into a host of other jobs, not really looking forward to the transition of a new place with new people, new processes. I like it where I work. The people are kind and thoughtful, and nearly everyone has a sense of humor.

I have to thank Jennifer, a mom I met on the Essex playground. It turns out she is a human resources consultant, and while Gavin and Alexander played she gave me a “free consult”: Why don’t you see what you can work out where you are? If they value you, they may be willing to talk.

I took a chance and laid my cards on the table with my boss. It turns out that I work in a place where work-life balance is more than a buzzword, and I’ve since thanked several managers (including my boss of course!) for supporting my wish to shift gears. I’m the first one to work from home to this extent.

In thinking about how much I wanted a change, I had to avoid thinking in black and white. I went from thoughts of leaving altogether, to working from home full time, to, finally, a compromise that just might work for everybody. Only time will tell, but of course I'm determined to prove that this work-from-home thing not only works,but makes me even more efficient.

What does the change mean for me? Less money, more peace. Turning away from corporate ambition and towards the things that make me happy: my writing, my family my home. No more employee evaluations. Fewer weighty decisions. A few more days in jeans and flip flops. A sigh of relief.

I think the money thing will be okay. There will be less dry cleaning, less gas guzzling, more time most mornings (and don’t they tell us that time is money?). I will recover the time I normally spend assembling a “business casual” outfit, drying my hair, applying makeup, packing lunch, etc. There are smaller things, too, that may go a long way. Maybe I will finally plan for dinner—one of those simple economical steps that always gets lost in the morning rush out the door. Maybe I'll avoid some of that not-so-smooth coming home from work transition that seems to plague the pre-dinner hour.

As Gavin starts kindergarten (the same day I start my work from home schedule!), I start my own new chapter. Here’s to the shiny new blank books of back-to-school. Our pens (and crayons) are poised for interesting and hopeful stories.


At 9/03/2007 5:53 AM, Anonymous Linda said...

You closed a door (on corporate management) You opened a window (work from home!)

Savour the fresh air from that open window. May it invigorate you as you begin this new chapter of your life!


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