Monday, July 9, 2012

This week's Variations on a Theme: working 60 hours a week without being busy while having it all

Posted By on 07.09.12 at 07:10 AM

A demanding career, a high-functioning family, and a degree of sanity = impossible.
  • A demanding career, a high-functioning family, and a degree of sanity = impossible.
It’s a little strange that in the midst of a recession and at a time when industries and individuals have been forced to do more with less, society seems poised to renounce our increasingly relentless pace—you know, the one that leads to immeasurable fulfillment and endless misery.

The signs are saying it’s time to slow down. Relinquish your cell phone. Stop working so damn much. Quit being so busy. Chill the fuck out.

If only it were so easy—or remotely possible. Even with busyness going out of style, it’s not likely that our frenetic, stretched-too-thin, pushed-to-the-limit ways will ever cease. That’s the case at the Reader. It’s probably true of your workplace, too.

I wish that for this iteration of our Variations on a Theme series, we as a staff could afford to experiment with a week—just one week—of “traditional” work-life balance. What if we had the luxury of checking out at 5 PM? What if we weren’t writing, editing, photographing, and designing on nights and weekends? (I’m already setting a bad example by writing this on a Sunday—while my parents are visiting from out of town no less.) What if we didn’t have to constantly deal with the needs of our digital beast, our relentless marijuana obsession (not as laid back as it sounds), our desire to exhaustively explore every aspect of Chicago?

I don’t have answers to those questions and never will. But I’m still curious about what it would be like to live in a world where work and life were 50-50 partners. When you work as hard or as much as people tend to these days—be it out of necessity or obsession or both—how can we possibly find the energy or hours to work on those other things: relationships, family, what’s commonly referred to as “life”?

This balancing act has been on my mind for a while, but it’s been more pressing ever since I (along with pretty much everyone I know) read that piece in the Atlantic about the fallacy of the belief that women can have it all (and all at once): a demanding career, a high-functioning family, a degree of sanity.

I’m sure we can all relate.

To that end, the Bleader will explore the tenuous line between passionately throwing oneself into work and recklessly throwing oneself overboard. As part of Work Versus Life Week, we will dig deep into such topics as the joy of staying home, our weirdly limited knowledge of parenthood (15 of our 22 editorial staffers are childless), and how much work is too much.

While we promise to devote much thought and care to this matter, we won’t let it become all-consuming. We do have lives, after all. Well, sort of.

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