Monday, September 07, 2015

midnight in the garden of [life] and [work]

is my work/life balance keeping me sane, ruining my career, or both?

in honor of labor day, this months #architalks subject is work/life.  to preface my situation; i am a licensed architect of two years, have a job i love with a wonderful firm.  i'm not married and don't have any children. i do have a long distance girlfriend, which is about the only factor i have in my own personal work and life equation.  i live two blocks from my office which makes for a wonderful and short walk everyday and also allows me to quickly stop by the office when i need to put in some extra time in on a project.

in general i'm very happy with the balance i've been able to achieve.  i work from 8 to 6 everyday.  when i'm at work i focus on the projects at hand, and when i'm at home i try not to have anything from the office interrupt my personal time.  when work takes priority, i'll stay later or get in earlier.  if a project requires me to work on a weekend, i'll make time for it.  that being said, if my personal life takes priority i'll let it.  thankfully my office let's us take 'flex' time for those situations and will even let you work from home if need be.  during working hours i'll take breaks to socialize with coworkers over a cup of coffee and sometimes when i'm out with friends i'll be thinking of a project, however for the most part i have my work life from 8 to 6 and my personal life filling anything after.

one change i made a few years back at a previous firm was not having my work e-mail sent to my phone.  i was getting e-mails from clients and bosses from all hours of the night, which would immediately send me into a panic reading it.  i decided to keep all 'work' communication on my 'work' computer, during 'work' hours.  we're not doctors, we're architects.  in the years i've been working, very few times has a situation happened which could be fixed in the middle of the night.  this has relieved a lot of stress in my life and has kept my morning commute peaceful.

that is my work/life balance.

discussing this months topic with co-workers i explained my balance.  oddly enough one said,

"you'll never advance in this career with a balance like that."

is that true?  do i have to be willing to work at any hour, in any situation, in order to advance in my career?  do i need to answer e-mails at midnight to succeed? is handling all my business during an 9 hour day not enough?  do i need to be constantly thinking about work in order to be good at work?

can one have a good work/life balance and still be successful?

more than any other previous topic i'm looking forward to the stories, experience and advice from the other bloggers in the #architalks network.

take some time and read other blogs from architects talking about their work/life balance, and if you have any advice for me, please leave a comment.  is my work/life balance keeping me sane or ruining my career?

other blogs in this months #architalks

Bob Borson - Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
Work | Life - Different Letters, Same Word

Matthew Stanfield - FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Work / Life : Life / Work

Marica McKeel - Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
Work/Life...What an Architect Does

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
The One Secret to Work - Life Balance

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
work | life :: dance

Mark R. LePage - Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
Living an Integrated Life as a Small Firm Architect

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
#ArchiTalks: Work/life...attempts

Collier Ward - Thousand Story Studio (@collier1960)

Jeremiah Russell, AIA - ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
what makes you giggle? #architalks

Jes Stafford - Modus Operandi Design (@modarchitect)
Tuning It Off

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Work/Life -- A Merger

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
Work Life

Meghana Joshi - IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks: Imbalanced and uninterrupted

Amy Kalar - ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
ArchiTalks #12: Balance is a Verb.

Michael Riscica - Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
I Just Can’t Do This Anymore

Stephen Ramos - BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
An Architect's House

brady ernst - Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Brady Ernst - Family Man Since 08/01/2015

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Father, Husband, Architect - typically in that order

Sharon George - Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
Work = 1/3 Life

Daniel Beck - The Architect's Checklist (@archchecklist)
Work Life Balance: Architecture and Babies - 5 Hints for Expecting Parents

Jarod Hall - di'velept (@divelept)
Work is Life

Anthony Richardson - That Architecture Student (@thatarchstudent)
studio / life

Lindsey Rhoden - SPARC Design (@sparcdesignpc)
Work Life Balance: A Photo Essay


Missy said...

As a non-architect, I can only come at this from a finance perspective.
Your colleague who says you'll never get anywhere if you don't answer your e-mails immediately... are they single? Divorced? Without kids? Overweight?

As an admitted co-dependent myself, I can with 100% confidence tell you that you're not crazy for putting yourself first. You should work to live, not live to work. Living to work will with guaranteed certainty lead to burnout. I had been putting my job first ever since the downturn in the economy because I was terrified of being without work again for a long stretch of time. I literally (no really, literally) nearly killed myself for my job and took myself on a ride to crazy town trying to please my boss so she wouldn't kick me to the curb. I bent over backwards to please someone who can only be compared to Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada because there is no other comparison. She was without a doubt the WORST manager i've ever had and I tried so hard to please her, coming in early, staying late, asking how high every time she said jump, and making sure to jump a little higher than she asked me to because I wanted to prove to her that I was worth my job (and most importantly the bucket loads of money she was paying me that I didn't even need). Do you know what that got me? Nothing. Not one cent extra and certainly no respect because I definitely didn't have any respect for myself! The minute I tried to stand up for myself and tell her no, I wouldn't be available to come into the office two hours early to cover for another team because I had a doctors appointment, she immediately threatened to fire me and forced me to go through the charade of FMLA paperwork. I hired an attorney, it was a whole big thing. Because I'd finally stood up for myself. FINALLY I said HEY! My mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing is more important to me than this job, your approval, and any amount of money you're going to give me. When I left that job, I needed SO much recovery time to process what I'd been doing to myself for the past four years. I took a part-time job at a company I love with a manager who said to me "Listen, I don't care if you want the day off so you can go blow bubbles on the roof (a favorite time waster of mine!) because who am I to decide whether you sitting at the park flying kites is less important than your coworker who needs to pick her kid up from the bus stop. That's not my job as your manager." And then I was like This. THIS is what I needed always. I found a place that allows me to take the time to do what I need to stay sane. It is a part time job of course and doesn't even cover my rent, so I ventured back out into the classifieds after a couple years. (cont)

Missy said...

(continued from above)

I applied for a full-time position at a well known large tax firm in Kansas City. They turned me down for the full-time regular job but instead offered me a higher paying seasonal position. It wasn't what I wanted but I liked the hiring manager, so I said okay. Long story short, I quit and then my boss called, asked me if she got rid of the thorn in my side would I be interested in returning? I said yes. I genuinely liked working for her and I enjoyed my job.. I just wasn't fond of my teammate. I decided putting up with crappy attitudes and rudeness wasn't worth any amount of money... if I can't get the tiniest bit of respect from my manager and coworkers, I'm not willing to waste my time! So I came back to the biggest disaster I've ever experienced in my professional career. I immediately was thrown into 18 hour days with no end in sight. Like you, I worked a hop, skip and two jumps from my office. This is good AND bad. People expect you to work longer because you're closer and the commute is shorter (so somehow working until 2am when your coworkers sneak out at 1am and make it home by 2am was the same as me walking home at 2am). After months and months of putting on my nice face, I exploded. Mostly from exhaustion. Overnight, I was overtaken by vitriolic hate for my coworker that I could never recover from. I had put myself in the exact same position as always trying to prove myself (hoping it would lead to a full time job) but in doing that, I forgot to do EVERYTHING for myself. I forgot that I was worth taking the time to care for myself. My career isn't the be all and end all of my happiness. On the upside I suppose, is that I worked so much and had so little time to spend it, I was able to amass a pretty nice savings account and have now turned down an offer for another season at the company and I feel totally okay with it. I'm taking time to take some classes, learn to play the violin, hit the gym, and contemplate starting a business.

If your company demands that much of you to get anywhere, maybe it isn't the right company. Maybe it isn't the right manager. But from the very beginning, you have to put your foot down and make your boundaries clear of what is acceptable and what is not. If you start answering your e-mails at midnight, people come to expect that from you. The minute that you don't because you've decided sitting around the table with a group of friends is more important to you, THEN you become the guy that can't advance because now you've become a no person instead of a yes person and people hate that and begin to think you're not dependable and reliable. If you start out being a no person, nobody will think twice when you say no. Say no. You're worth it.

Lora said...

Keep pushing for what works for you. You seem to respect your client and your employer, that's the important piece. If they don't respect you and your time...then there are bigger issues.

matthew said...

Sounds like you have a healthy compartmentalization of your life. In some respects, 'career advancement' is what you want it to be. What you want your career to look like. I see no reason why a person should devote every moment of their life to a firm (unless it is their own). I say kudos to you for keeping a portion of life back for yourself.