12: The Myth Of Work Life Balance

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This is a podcast episode titled, 12: The Myth Of Work Life Balance. The summary for this episode is: If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. --- Work life balance is a myth. On this week's episode of Seeking Wisdom, we talk about why it's time to stop fighting work/life balance and instead, focus on prioritizing the right things. This episode was inspired by a post that David wrote titled: How-to Be Happier: Avoid Work/Life Balance https://medium.com/life-learning/your-priorities-bcbbb7e49287#.llbq5lu8v Catchup on all of the previous episodes at www.seekingwisdom.io/ Follow us on Twitter: @dcancel, @davegerhardt and @seekingwisdomio

Speaker 1: What up, what up, what up?

Speaker 2: On this episode of Seeking Wisdom, we're going to talk about one of our favorite topics, work- life balance, and the myth of work- life balance.

Speaker 1: Shit don't exist.

Speaker 2: All right. So we're going to talk about work- life balance, something that I bet everybody listening has thought about, thinks about, talks about. And especially today, it's harder than ever, right? We have Slack, we have email, we have jobs that, it doesn't matter if we're in the office, we can always work at different times. But we want to change the way that you think about work- life balance, because you said," Doesn't exist." It's not a real thing.

Speaker 1: It doesn't exist. I think it's the myth that everyone always chases. It's the unicorn that we want but doesn't exist.

Speaker 2: So the first thing, when talking about work work- life balance is to just... Maybe this is like a Stephen Covey thing where you change your paradigm. Right? Change the map of what work- life balance is, first of all. And so I think maybe if you first understand that it's impossible, that'll change the perspective.

Speaker 1: Yeah. And especially if you read Medium these days, I think this is where everyone writes about work- life balance on the daily. You see that... I think the paradigm shift for me, and that is, thinking about it at the macro level. So take it up a level, take it up many levels, and then work- life balance kind of makes sense in that high level. But I think people get too focused, too obsessed with trying to optimize every last inch of everything. And you see this on Medium all the time. And they try to optimize every hour to be balanced, every day to be balanced, and I think that that is impossible.

Speaker 2: So, they think that, basically that would mean you show up at work at nine, you do only work from nine to five. You leave right at five and you go home and you hang out with your family and your kids and you don't think about work. And then that's like, what the-

Speaker 1: That's the myth. That's the myth, that you have these very clear lines that fit well inside of an Excel table. Right? That say like," From this time to this time, and not one minute over, do I work. And then this is my personal time and this is the amount I allocate towards friends, et cetera, et cetera." And we all know that's impossible, but people try to chase that every day.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And you wrote a post on this that we'll link to in here. But basically, one of the things is like, if you think about it that way, you're just going to make yourself absolutely fucking miserable.

Speaker 1: Mm- hmm( affirmative), because you have to think... if you think that way, then you're thinking like," I have to be the perfect parent. I have to be the perfect team member. I have to be the perfect husband or wife. I have to be the perfect everything."

Speaker 2: Yeah. So you've kind of like a little hack for this. And it's funny because hack is not the right word, but it's what it is. And your whole work- life balancing is just, it's not work- life balance, it's just prioritization. Talk about-

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: ...Talk about what you've done.

Speaker 1: Yeah, it's about prioritization and just accepting that things will ebb and flow, and that at the macro level, things will balance out. And so, my priorities are very simple. Right? There... I prioritize my family, myself and my health, my friends, and then I prioritize work, kind of in that order. And-

Speaker 2: But people will say," Whoa, whoa, you're a startup founder. You're trying to build this big company. How are you going to put yourself last?"

Speaker 1: Yeah, yeah, yeah. How am I going to put the company last? Because those things have to... I can't be a good person at work if I'm not focusing time on my family and not focusing time on my own personal health.

Speaker 2: Yeah. I'm glad you said that because I wanted to... this is something that's changed for me recently, which is, working in an environment where it doesn't matter if I show up at nine o'clock or 9: 15, or 10, or 8: 15, it doesn't matter at all.

Speaker 1: Doesn't matter.

Speaker 2: What's more... I know that I have a morning routine. I like to go to the gym, right?

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: And so now, because of that, that's the way that we think here, that's the most important thing for me. And so it doesn't matter if I come in at nine, if I take care of myself in the morning, I'm way more productive during the day. And so, it doesn't matter if I show up at 9: 15, right?

Speaker 1: Yep.

Speaker 2: If I got my thing in, I got my gym in, then I'm not spending the entire day thinking about," Oh my God, how am I going to prioritize my health?", and it's already done.

Speaker 1: It's already taken care of, and you did the right thing. You stack things in the right order there, and I think that's the key. You have to stack them in the right order. We like to think about... And I kind of think about us at drift as our ethos is kind of, work hard, play hard. Right? So when you hear," Crush it. Work hard." And then when you're not here, actively crush it, whether that's with your family or that's personal time, or that's working out, whatever you like, go do it. Do to the max, right?

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: No half stepping.

Speaker 2: But you also say, you want to find people who... That doesn't mean you're working all the time, but like-

Speaker 1: Correct.

Speaker 2: ...somewhere you're out like... you're with your family, you're going for a run, you're at the beach. But you actually care about the problem that we're solving here, and so you're still thinking about it. You're never like... That never... It's never turned off.

Speaker 1: Yeah because... And that, to me, is about caring. Right? Finding people who care about what they do. And if you do, then you can't fully turn it off. And you shouldn't try to, because if you can fully turn it off, then it's probably hard for you to come back to work. Right? You come back to work because you need a paycheck or you need to get here, or because it's 9: 00 AM, and so I have to be here.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: We don't want anyone to have to come to work because they feel like they have to. You want to come to work because you care about what you're doing and you're passionate and you want to focus and kill that.

Speaker 2: Do you think, as a CEO and as a founder, do you have to set the tone and do that? Do you have to lead by example and show that there is this work- life balance, or does that matter?

Speaker 1: I think it matters in... especially in the... maybe in all sizes, I think it does matter. And so, I think I have to set the tone. I don't know if I do a great job at setting the tone. Right? And that's okay. I'm always trying to improve, so sometimes maybe I work too much or I'm around too much or not. I don't know. I don't know how people see me, but I know that I'm striving towards setting that example.

Speaker 2: The other thing that I think we talk about a lot that, might have... Well, not my... It has a huge impact on work- life balance and prioritization is, the big rocks.

Speaker 1: Yes. It's huge.

Speaker 2: It is funny how we talk about this stuff so much and they all kind of like-

Speaker 1: It's all-

Speaker 2: ...they all play together-

Speaker 1: Yep.

Speaker 2: ...right? And so work- life balance, I think, is easier if you have the priorities right.

Speaker 1: Yep.

Speaker 2: crosstalk.

Speaker 1: And I think there's so... I think... We've never talked about it this way-

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: ...but they're so intertwined. If you have... If you're focused on the big rocks and the big things that you have to do each day to move the ball forward, whether that's in your health or at work or in your personal life or family life, whatever it is, then you're naturally going to prioritize the right thing, and probably spend the right amount of time on that. And then people who focus too much on the small rocks are usually the people who are, and those are things that are not material, that are not moving the company or yourself forward, probably spend a lot of time trying to achieve this elusive balance. And try to fill their day with lots of small rocks that they can fit, again, in their spreadsheets and their to- do lists or whatever, chock full of little, small rocks that actually aren't meaningful.

Speaker 2: The big rock thing also, it kind of unlocks this whole other level of freedom too, I think. Right? If you say," Okay, here's my one thing for the day." or," Here's my one thing for the week.", once you get... If I say," Okay, right now, I'm working on a marketing plan for our Zapier integration." Right? That's my thing for... I set the next two days.

Speaker 1: Yep.

Speaker 2: If I got that done-

Speaker 1: Awesome.

Speaker 2: ...great.

Speaker 1: Amazing.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And I'm like... My wife texts me and she's like," Hey, you want to meet up for a drink at four o'clock?" Guess what I'm going to do? I'm going to go-

Speaker 1: Go.

Speaker 2: ...do that.

Speaker 1: That's awesome. Someone text me to go to drinks at four o'clock.

Speaker 2: It's not going to actually happen.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Not going to happen for me.

Speaker 2: But the point of that is, it just goes back to prioritization, which is-

Speaker 1: Totally. And big rocks was new for you, so how do you think about big rocks?

Speaker 2: It's hard. I still struggle with it every day, because I feel like I make a list that is 10 big rocks.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: But I've just noticed that the feeling that I get and the quality of work is so much better when I just pick one thing.

Speaker 1: Yep.

Speaker 2: And so the new thing that I've been doing lately is, every Sunday, whether it's Sunday morning or Sunday night, just depends on when I'm around, I actually try to plan out my week. And it doesn't work for me... I'm not a... I can't put time on my calendar and that says," At one o'clock, I'm going to write this thing." Right?" I'm working on this content thing and at one o'clock on Tuesday, that's when I'm going to write it." I know a ton of people do that. We talked to Noah Kagan, he does that.

Speaker 1: Yep.

Speaker 2: For me, that just hasn't worked because I just need to do work when happens and when it feels right. And what would end up happening is, I'd put the time on my calendar for one o'clock and I'd just do it earlier.

Speaker 1: I think what you're experiencing is more normal, and I think that's why people try to be more like Noah. Right? Try to put themselves on a schedule. And I think you really need to listen to yourself and your body and your... And know when it's right and you have that feeling.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: And... But I think that's scary for people because it's hard to measure. And just like you focusing on big rocks versus small rocks is... You know when it's working, you feel it, and it's hugely empowering for you. But you still struggle with, maybe having too many big rocks. So how do you know when it's right? You just feel it.

Speaker 2: Yeah, for sure. And it's funny because some of the stuff that's been most successful for us, on the marketing side of things, I've written at like midnight on a Saturday.

Speaker 1: Yep.

Speaker 2: Right? Just has no... It doesn't matter at all, when it happens.

Speaker 1: Or off the cuff.

Speaker 2: Yeah. It just... When it comes to you, you just do it.

Speaker 1: Yep.

Speaker 2: You just drop everything and do it, and now your whole week has shifted. So yeah, now I write out... every Sunday night I write four to five things, the big goals that I want to get done for the week. And that just keeps me level set. Right? It's like, if you don't do anything this week, you got to get these four things done.

Speaker 1: Yeah. And there's an important thing there that you mentioned, which was, there are some times things come up and you just jump on them. And those have been some of our bigger things as well.

Speaker 2: For sure. Yeah.

Speaker 1: And two words I'm always... I'm saying a lot to people who are in the other side of putting everything on the list is," Cognitive load." And I keep saying," Cognitive load." I was saying that to one of our designers, Elise, recently, because we were talking about some little, tiny, minor change that we've been talking about for a long time. And she was checking what Trello card it was on and what list, and prioritizing this and that and moving. And I just kept saying to her, " Cognitive load." And she was like, " What?" I'm like... I'm like, " It would have been faster to do the thing that we've been talking about, than all the energy of putting it on the list and moving it inaudible the list and prioritizing and moving in this." Sometimes you just got to be able to use your gut and say," I'm just going to do this right now. It's on no list, but I'm going to do it right now, and it's going to be easier for me to do right now than to put it on some fricking list."

Speaker 2: Yeah. And those are the things that you, after you do them, you feel... There're certain things that you do and you just... they feel amazing after you've done them. And those are the types of things.

Speaker 1: Yep. Totally.

Speaker 2: You had an idea, you just completely blow up your day and you just worked on it.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Because you spend so much time on this load thing. Even if you put it on a list, now you have to remember that it's on a list. Now you're thinking about it when you shouldn't be thinking about it." Oh, I got to get back to that thing." And it's like," Wow, you've just spent more mental energy-

Speaker 2: Right.

Speaker 1: "...burned it than just doing the thing."

Speaker 2: Right. And just, I think having a plan like... So yeah, I get buried in lists too, but I think having a plan has had a huge thing. So the Sunday night thing, I write out stuff, but then I'll just pick one thing like, what would make Monday, what would make today-

Speaker 1: Amazing.

Speaker 2: ...a successful day? Right? If I got this one thing done. And then it's an amazing feeling, if you just... if you get that thing done, and then it's noon and you're like," Wow, cool. Okay now-

Speaker 1: Gravy.

Speaker 2: ...I can do whatever.

Speaker 1: Yep. Everything.

Speaker 2: Get the next thing.

Speaker 1: Everything is set.

Speaker 2: Is set. So yeah, the big rock's just really align everything. The other thing I wanted to bring up with you, this is kind of related, that was unlocking, is a book that you said you you kind of revisit every year, which is Peter Drucker.

Speaker 1: Yes. Managing Oneself.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Yeah. It's a little book. It's kind of like a pamphlet, really. And everyone should buy it. It costs$ 5, I think, on Amazon.

Speaker 2: Like, 30 pages.

Speaker 1: Yeah, it's 30 pages long, and you can revisit it. And it's just like the title says, it's a book about not managing others, but learning to manage yourself. And everything in there you probably know, at some level, but every time I recommend that book to someone or I reread it myself, something new pops out of that little 30 page pamphlet.

Speaker 2: Can you guess what the big thing for... the thing that changed me from that book?

Speaker 1: Hm. Good question. No.

Speaker 2: You can't?

Speaker 1: No, no.

Speaker 2: It was... He has a line, I forget exactly line, but it was like," Stop spending times on... Stop spending time on things that you aren't good at."

Speaker 1: Yes. So-

Speaker 2: And it seems so fucking obvious-

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: ...but that was like a complete game changer for me because... and his whole point is, it's going to take you longer to get from not good at something to mediocre for something brand new, than if you just focus on something you're already good at and try to get great at it. It just... So that just completely changing, whether it's, you're not... math, isn't your thing, or you're not a spreadsheet person or design isn't your thing, just forget about that stuff.

Speaker 1: It's so obvious, but so hard. This is why Dave's ahead of the ball because he read that. And that book is so important and he got it. It took me like a decade to figure that out. And I-

Speaker 2: What was the one thing, I'm sure there're other things...

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1: It took me a decade to figure that out the hard way, of just repeatedly trying to get better at things that I wasn't naturally good at. And then just figuring out, I'm always... I'm only ever going to be mediocre at any of these things.

Speaker 2: Yeah. What's something that you stopped trying to get better at?

Speaker 1: Oh, yeah. Managing things on lists. crosstalk.

Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1: Definitely. I saw like... I read every book, GTD this and that. And I tried every system and to-dos and whatever. And I just kept putting more stuff on lists and organizing, geeking out about the list. I talk about this stuff because I fall into the trap just like everyone else, and I have to remind myself. And then I just... I realize, I'm never going back to these lists. I'm never using these lists and I just don't think this way, and so I had to throw it away. But that was an area that I saw everyone around me, who had personalities that were good at the list building thing, or at least on the surface, it looked that way. Now I can look back and think like, they weren't actually very effective. They were just good at list making.

Speaker 2: Yeah. I think that 90% of the stuff that I write down, I don't ever go back to.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Same. And I think it's good to write it down. I'm not against writing it down, it's just, don't get obsessed or panicked or anxious about doing it. Writing it down is awesome because you get it out of your brain.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Right?

Speaker 2: So, yeah. Work- life balance, it's-

Speaker 1: Not true.

Speaker 2: ...change your mindset.

Speaker 1: Yes.

Speaker 2: It's not true.

Speaker 1: It doesn't exist. And I think we need to stop chasing it and you're going to be a lot happier once you do.

Speaker 2: Cool. Let... That is a good wrap for today.

Speaker 1: Let's wrap it.

Speaker 2: What do we want to tell the people to do though? We need reviews.

Speaker 1: We need reviews. Come on. You're holding back. I keep hearing a lot of people. I keep getting emails about people listening to the podcast week after week. And I know, I know, I'm talking to you, you're not reviewing. Let's get a five star review.

Speaker 2: Awesome. Yeah. Leave a review. The easy way to do it, you can just go to our website, seekingwisdom. io. And if you write a review, we're going to show you on that page too.

Speaker 1: That's right. We're going to put your lovely photo on that page.

Speaker 2: Cool.

Speaker 1: See ya.

Speaker 2: All right.


If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. --- Work life balance is a myth. On this week's episode of Seeking Wisdom, we talk about why it's time to stop fighting work/life balance and instead, focus on prioritizing the right things. This episode was inspired by a post that David wrote titled: How-to Be Happier: Avoid Work/Life Balance https://medium.com/life-learning/your-priorities-bcbbb7e49287#.llbq5lu8v Catchup on all of the previous episodes at www.seekingwisdom.io/ Follow us on Twitter: @dcancel, @davegerhardt and @seekingwisdomio