Thursday, December 23, 2010

Four Burners

I was reading Chris Guillebeau's blog over at "The Art of non-Conformity" this morning and I wandered across this post about work-life balance.
In it, he talks about a quote from David Sedaris that says that all of our lives consist of four "burners" (in this case, our life is metaphorically a stove top). There is a burner for friends, one for family, one for health and one for work.
The quote then goes on to say that to be successful, you have to turn off one of the burners. To be really successful, you have to turn off two.
The thought is anathema to a lot of people (me included). I have always sought a life in balance. I can, however, see how turning off some burners would help one succeed in the other areas.
I am just selfish enough that I want success in all areas.
The comments on the post offer some valuable insight (proving once again  that blog readers are usually smarter than blog writers - though sometimes they are the same people). piece of valuable advice is to combine burners. For example, run or bike with friends or family and thus combine health/family. Or make friends and family a single burner.
Another bit of advice says to turn down one burner for awhile and then come back to it later. This one begs a "juggling" metaphor.
For me, and for many of the creatives I hang out with, there is a fifth burner. The fifth burner is our "art". so I have a work burner that I have to keep going and I have to be successful primarily for the benefit of my family and health. Work also finances my art. So, I have to be successful at work, but I also have to leave time for writing, creating, etc.
I know, for a fact, that if I stopped producing my art, even at the snail's pace at which I work, I could devote more time to work and quickly become one of the best in my field. I could be much more recognized. I could give presentations at conferences and I could make a lot more money.
The thing is, my work is not my passion. My art is. So I have to balance 5 burners, not 4. A lot of you are in a similar boat.
So, do we need to cut off a burner? two? Or is there a way to juggle things better?
Just a glimpse into my life, right now, I do a decent job at managing all five. I get up early, get to work before most others. I then get to leave a bit early, get home and do family stuff. I keep 2 nights a week to hang with friends. I work out after the kids have settled down for the night, usually around 9:30. And then I spend an hour or so writing before bed. Some nights, I squeeze in some pure relax time just for me (lately there has been more relax time as I bought Starcraft 2 and I am addicted to it - this is a pattern I endure when I get a new game. I don't get new games often, but when I do, I surrender to an intense addicted phase and then I am done for a long while).

Whew...long post I do you guys and gals handle the 4? 5? 6? burners in your lives?

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