Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Day 13: Defining a work-life balance...

Lately, I've been spending the majority of my waking hours with my headspace in library land. Yes, forty-something hours a week of that time is spent at work. I could easily spend more time at work too - especially as it's still all new, and I want to immerse myself in the work so that I can better familiarise myself with its various tasks, processes, workflows, variables and all the cool stuff in-between. I rarely take lunch breaks that are longer than half an hour, and often skip at least one of my tea-breaks.

When I'm not at work, I've been thinking and writing for blogjune for at least an hour a day. I engage with other librarians via email and social media, often on library-related topics. I work hard on networking where I can, I develop my LinkedIn profile and update my resume from time to time - so many hours of tweaking! I do a bit of professional reading here and there, and in the past, I've dedicated many many hours volunteering on various committees within ALIA.

It's not that I'm a work-a-holic - it's more that I'm just really focused on the library industry, figuring out where I fit in it and which directions I can move within it.

But I've also been thinking of how to develop more of a work / life balance. Honestly, I don't know how to establish that kind of balance. People who have families, for example, don't have as much of a choice. And working in the library industry, the phrase "work / life balance" often implies that they have flexible working arrangements so that those with children can manage their family commitments better. Which is great.

At the same time, there are often days when I could easily work a ten-hour day in the office. I love the feeling of being productive and getting things finished. And with the Canberra winter setting in, I'd much rather stay in an extra hour or two and put off the inevitable exit into the cold night. And Canberra in the winter isn't exactly a buzzing hive of evening activity. Most people seem content to be at home snuggled up and watching the latest season of American Gods or Orange is the New Black. Or arguing with people on the Internet.

The more I think of it, the more I've realised that it's often been my work that's dictated my life decisions. It's been responsible for many of the interesting places that I've lived. It's contributed to the break-up of relationships, but also opened me up to opportunities to start new ones. A good income has enabled more enriching life experiences that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to afford, whereas a lesser wage has left me feeling like I need to make sacrifices. And, of course, there's the feeling of personal fulfilment or the existential angst that comes and goes depending on where I am in my career path.

So, for me, work and life aren't two opposing forces that need balancing. It's more like a causal loop that directly feeds into one another, often overlapping - and both need nurturing. I need to look after my professional life and keep it in good condition in order to then be happy in my personal life. Being in the library industry, I feel incredibly privileged that I can follow a professional career that also aligns with my personal interests and, for me, it's never just a job. And if I didn't have that work, then my life just wouldn't be the same.