Since the rise of the digital age and the various possibilities of access to the work place, many people say that the work-time melts together with life-time. Many people say that the borders between work and home begin to blur.
If the border blurs, does this mean that you get lost in work? Do you really need to jump to your smartphone whenever it sends a signal? Is it really necessary to check mails every 5 minutes and get the work done?
I have three small kids. If I go with them to the playground I can observe many daddies who do two things in parallel: On the one side they “enjoy the time with their kids” as they say and on the other side, I see that they look more in their smartphone than they interact with their kids. If this is their understanding of “blurring borders” between work and life, I feel sad.
Of course, work needs to be done in time. And I am open to work on saturdays or sundays if there is need to do so. But my interpretation of the “blurring border between work and home” is a very different one:
– I choose where I work – at home or at the office or elsewhere.
– I have clear rules to keep the things separated: No smartphone on the playground except to make a nice photo. Vice versa, no kids in my homeoffice if I want to work.
– I have a clear balance between work and non-work time. I say “balance” – sometimes I work way more, sometimes family-time has higher priority.
I observe that many working people become enslaved by smartphones and VPN powered notebooks. To work “anywhere and anytime” is greatly misunderstood as “I have to work anywhere and anytime”. But there is one single and simple rule not to get lost in work: Define your schedule of “anywhere and anytime” once and stick to it. This rule is very simple but also very hard to keep. You will see that there are many possibilities to take out your smartphone and check for information. The real challenge is to concentrate on what are you doing in the moment. This challenge will go on your entire life.
A Zen-master was asked by his student about his source of magic wisdom and so the Zen-master said:”If I go, I go. If I eat, I eat. If I sleep, I sleep. But you, Zen-student, if you go, you think of the next meal, and if you want to sleep, you think on anything else but sleep”.
If you are with your kids on the playground, fully concentrate on your kids and play with them. And if you are at work, fully concentrate on work. In both cases you will earn a much better result and your kids say “thanks” in their heart and their smile is a real one.