Monday, January 29, 2007

Work-life balance

In a recent IBM telecon, a senior manager mentioned that a 60 hour week felt about right for her. This was in the context of a discussion about work-life balance among the more senior techies in her organisation. There was no implication that everyone should work those kind of hours, although I guess a fair number of those on the call do.

A few days ago I heard a speaker on technical leadership say that no-one should expect to become a senior technical leader by working a 37 hour week.

But a 37 hour week feels about right for me. Maybe the promotion process is broken because it doesn't take into account working hours. I don't think so. Results are what counts rather than being physically present. And, of course, no-one should expect to be promoted unless they produce results.

I used to work longer hours and I know this makes me ineffective. I lose most of my creative spark. You know the kind of thing: you're struggling with a seemingly intractable problem and then a solution pops into your head when you're thinking about something else (or not thinking about anything in particular). The trick seems to be to load the problem up in your brain and, if you can't make progress, switch to doing something completely different, like going home or taking some exercise.

Some people can work long hours and still be creative. Others seem to enjoy spending most of their waking hours at work. Each to his or her own, but the crucial thing is to make a choice that you won't regret later, which I hope I've done.

1 comment:

AlBlue said...

Completely agree. In fact, the same is also true of start/end times as well. Some places, you have to be there at 9am (despite the fact that that means you'll arrive after beign stressed from the commute into work ... well, unless you're in Hursley I guess :-)

I find that a late-late works well for me, and I get most of my most productive work done in the evenings when everyone else has gone home. What should be measured is productivity, not clock time -- anyone can sit mesmerised at a screen 40 hours a week without achieving anything by reading and commenting on blogs (ahem) but at the end of the day, it's what you achieve that counts.


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