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What life would look if we said no to work-life balance (and a nod to Amazon, of course)


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In this post Penelope Trunk admits there is no such thing as work-life balance.

2. People should stop searching for the holy grail of balance. It’s not there.

We have known for years that there’s no such thing as work-life balance. You can do both at a mediocre level. You can do one poorly and one well. Or you can do an outstanding job at one and not do the other at all. (Please, I’m sure someone will say in the comments it’s possible to do both well. This is not true, because it’s relative since you don’t live in a black hole, and if you’re trying to do both well there is someone who is giving up doing one of those things well in order to focus.)

Since there is no balance, what about doing work and life sequentially? This is what many all-0r-nothing types do. They train for the Olympics and then they go to college after they compete. Or they work long hours for a decade and then they quit to have kids. Or they travel for five years and then start a career.

A sequential life means that you don’t give everything up, but you work for a while, then you take a break, then you work. When you work, you work very long hours. When you are not working you are really not working. How much you like to work will dictate how much time of your life you are working versus how much you are doing non-work.

Pretty sure she's talking out her ass. Shorn of her self-promotion, the truth is that she's ALLEGEDLY run a series of small businesses that neither truly demanded nor rewarded her self-reported excessive work:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penelope_Trunk

Best case scenario is she sold one for "a small amount", one went under, pushed out of one by a guy who didn't even want to work that hard, and she's doing one now that you've never heard of and she herself admits is mediocre. You can call them startups or you can call them what they are: lifestyle businesses based on her increasingly dubious personal brand.

The irony is that she talks like she understands life in high-tech startups but at best she hasn't worked in a real one since like... 10 or 20 years ago? It's pretty evident why too: it's hard to work with other people because of THE CRAZY. Crazy people need to humblebrag about the crazy hours they work, because otherwise you might think they were crazy FOR NO GOOD REASON. And let me just suggest that crazy people spend a lot of time being unhappy that other people's work IS NOT WHAT THEY WANT without being able to articulate precisely what they do want. Takes a lot of time, but for very little forward progress for an organization.

I've worked in a lot of startups and the foundation of all of them is invariably the senior engineers who work 9 to 5 and go home to their families every night... if they aren't actually working at home most of the time. Crazy doesn't build great companies, and I'm not sure it ever did.

I'm not sure it ever did, either. 

Penelope may not have a "real" recent high-tech experience, but I am interested in her opinions because she is "disrupting" some commonly accepted "truths". I also happen to believe there is no work-life balance as currently defined. 9-5 does not exist because we are constantly on our devices checking - and replying - to emails and other streams of informations.  This is not necessarily bad - or good - it is just how things are, so we might as well stop pretending. 

But "CRAZY" is definitely not productive.

  

OK but she never has any data or research. How am I going to take advice on work-life balance from a woman who lives on a farm in the middle of nowhere with an abusive spouse and autistic kids who she homeschools? I don't think my issue with her ideas is that I don't want to check email first thing in the morning... it's that her ideas come entirely from her own experience, and her experience is pretty far off the normal map for a female programmer in Silicon Valley like me.

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