Hey everyone, it’s Medicine Mondays again. This is just kind of a “musings” type of post where I talk about Work Life Balance.
Work Life Balance?
Yea. I see this string of words everywhere lately, especially in reference to physicians.
This is very difficult, and there is likely some interplay between this and the already complex, multifactorial Physician Burnout topic. However, that interplay is outside the scope of this blog post, and would likely require a series of posts to really talk about.
Today I’m going to narrow in on just the idea of “Work Life Balance”. This is the idea that you can find a harmonius balance between work and life and “have it all”. There are rainbows and unicorns and the birds are singing… everything would be great if you could just find this balance. For some this may be possible, and for those who are selling this dream of work life balance maybe they have actually achieved it. However, I’m not so optimistic.
In my realist (slightly pessmistic?) view — You can’t have it all – all the time.
In general the more you have, the more you want. The true key to Work Life Balance is the elephant in the room — Lifestyle.
For some people they can find true work life balance without sacrificing anything else. They are able to manage their time better, or be more efficient, or whatever in order to get 100% out of their day and achieve this true zen master balance, like capybaras:
I am not one of those people. In fact, I think most people are not.
The truth of the matter is that for most physicians achieving your ideal work life balance will require tweaking your lifestyle. If you want to be able to work 8-6 pm full-time and still make it to all your kid’s soccer games on Saturday and piano recitals on Sundays, then you have to find a job without call. In general a job that doesn’t require call will pay less, or you will have to live in a less desirable area in order to keep the same pay.
Or if you want to be able to go surfing every morning, then you either need to find a job that will let you work only evenings, or one that will let you work part-time.
Do you see the commonality here?
It’s time — the most precious commodity.
How much can you tweak your lifestyle in order to find your ideal work life balance?
For me, I work evenings and I work every other weekend. For many people, this is not ideal. However, it does give me flexibility during the week a few times a month to get other things done. Will I miss stuff on weekdays and weekends sometimes? Yes. However, for me, I think I can still attend the majority of special events my children will have in the mornings. Although not “normal”, this work schedule works for me.
For my wife, she works a normal full-time job. She also does a week of pager call every 6 weeks or so. In general she has most weekends off. However, because our inlaws (and me) can help with the kids in the mornings, she is usually able to go in early and leave slightly earlier a few days a week. This allows her to take my daughter to piano lessons and hula — which is very important to her. In terms of work life balance, I’m sure she would much prefer to be home with the kids earlier on the weekdays. Her ideal work life balance would probably be something like going in early and leaving by 3pm or so everyday. Unfortunately, that is not possible (currently), but may be possible someday. However, this would likely require a significant decrease in salary. That’s an option to consider a little farther down the road once we get rid of our student loans.
Work Life Balance is hard, but I think a lot of it has to do with choosing your priorities. You can’t have it all – all the time… but you probably can have most things most of the time. You just need to decide how to tweak your lifestyle to fulfill your work life balance goals.
Of course, the money has to come from somewhere… taking a pay cut for a better job with more time off is not “losing money”. Instead, consider it as “buying time”.
Life is Short. Be Happy.
Work Life Balance is hard.
You probably can’t have it all – all the time.
However, you probably can have most things most of the time.
Know your priorities.
Taking a pay cut for a better job with more time off is not “losing money”. Instead, consider it as “buying time”.
Life is Short. Be Happy.
Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.
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Good Morning Sensei, I was reading your posts for several months now and enjoy them much. I work in Radiology as well but as technical stuff with a 6 digits salary (still about 3 times less than a Radiologist’s). Not that it matters for this subject. However I work overtime due to fact I cant cover my “unofficial calculated” 4.5 FTE workload in one shift.
However the point is I realized something different- coming from a country that have been during my childhood under a different regime than capitalism. I thought this time pie idea belonged to that regime but then a friend of mine, from India, mentioned the same thing coming from their religion and made me spend some more time on it.
I would like to share my conclusions, maybe it helps in realizing where time goes and the “hidden culture” we live in.
They say out of 24 hours day 8 hours should be for work, 8 for sleep, and 8 for cultural-ization (aka spiritual, or lets say “me (and family) time”).
According to an article in Forbes they say USA people spend at work only 24% of their time (?!)
Putting these two together and doing my calculations: I end up sleeping less than 8 hours (in the best case) but for sake of calculation lets use 8. My day starts at 5 am and I prepare till 7am to go to work (van share) that takes 45 min to 1 hour to get there. I work 4 +1 lunch break (no way I can refuse although I most of time work during it, and eat in front of computer reading more work related articles or emails) + 4 = 9 hours. Another 1 hour to 1:15 min van pool back. I end up exhausted home. I eat about 1 hour ( resting too because I cant eat right away because of tiredness). So far 8+2+1+9+1+1= 2 hours of me time. In those 2 hours I drag my feet and cant do readings etc than need a fresh mind nor studying or concerts because I am exhausted. I watch TV or schedule for next days. No kids, or family. I cant move closer to work because I cover 3 campuses and I live in the middle for that reason. So my solution is: “dead time” or 2prep+1comute+1lunch+1comute+1dinner should be fairly split ted between me and employer right since is nobody fault life is such. So
I will give 3 hours out of 8 me time and they should give 3 hours out of work time. Hence we should work 5 hours and get 3 more “me time” hours back. Correct? ( :))
Idea is not new, is rather came from unions won negotiations of “walking from and to parking lot within work time”. They say: If employee should punch card at 8am in the office, they need to be on Employer premises at 7:45 to park and walk to building. That means on way out they can walk at 3:45 pm ( punch) since they need to walk and un-park 15 min while still on the Employer’s premises.