An editor asked me about my definition of work the other day. After describing why I co-founded this company and talking about how I approach my work, she assumed that work-life balance doesn’t matter to me as my work seems to be my life. I disagree. First off, there are definitely non-work parts in my life that are important to me. It’s more that I want to feel fulfilled from my work as much as from other parts of my life like friends and families, travels and reading/writing etc.
Second, it’s true that I don’t have the same urge for work-life balance as others might have as I don’t feel overwhelmed by work or exploited by my employer (that greedy bastard). But as I’ve learned in the last years, I need my work-life balance1 even more, now that I don’t mind working long and hard. Oftentimes, it gets hard to stop working, which can become a problem if your work depends on new ideas and thus a fresh mind. I understand much better now how my mind needs its time-outs to catch its breath and recalibrate. It needs downtime to work properly. It needs the freedom to daydream, to play and to enjoy stupid things. And for me that means that I need to force myself away from work and be ruthless about relaxing, which doesn’t come easy for me, especially with the endless stimulus of the web available to me everywhere.
That’s a long paragraph to say that I took last week off and spent it with my girl-friend on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Unlike last year when I was in Portugal for two weeks, I wasn’t able to fully disconnect from work this time. A few ongoing projects needed a little bit of care and then Igor decided to write an article, which got on the front-page of Hacker News and brought down our server for almost a day.
Nevertheless, it’s better to have a vacation with a little work in the morning or the evening than to take no vacation at all. We walked endlessly around the national parks and coasts of Rügen and let the sea breeze ventilate our heads. I’m always fascinated by the effect that looking out onto the sea can have on your stress level.
Alas, back to work. The project pipeline is bursting and the to-do list is endless. It’s going to be a good week. We will be in Amsterdam from Friday until Monday for our strategy retreat. See you soon.
No, I won’t go into the whole discussion about how this is the wrong term etc. Let’s just assume for this article that we’re talking about the balance between working and not working, whatever that means. ↩