In The Workplace And Home
I typically always start with technology when writing blog posts. Today is no different. Technology enables us to communicate and collaborate from anywhere. Technology has transformed the workplace. The scenarios requiring out-of-the-office access from any device are numerous. It is no different in education. The rapid and accelerating move towards the adoption and use of mobile technologies has provided our society with the ability to work in incredible, and previously unanticipated, ways.
I often hear of the need for work-life balance. For me, it has never happened. Coming out of high school straight into the military, I worked where I lived and lived where I worked. My family understands this process. My extended family, maybe not so much. I think work-life balance means something different to every individual. Sometimes I think it is different based on where you live, your family dynamics, perfectionism, and increasingly how you interact with technology. A lot of people develop perfectionist tendencies at a young age when demands on their time are limited to school, sports/hobbies and maybe an after-school job. It’s easier to maintain that perfectionist habit as a kid, but as you grow up, life gets more complicated. As you climb the work ladder and as your family grows, your responsibilities increase dramatically.
As you progress, this habit can become overwhelming. My wife and I got married at an early age, she was 20, and I was 19. College took a backseat for her as she worked so we could make ends meet. It wasn't until after we had our middle child Aiyana, that she went back to finish her associates degree in accounting, then her masters degree, and later become a CPA. The picture here was from Amanda's graduation day. Those were ever-changing times, which didn't make life more comfortable but we worked as a family to transition through these life-changing moments. Mobile technology and social media hadn't entered into our lives yet. No, this would come later.
Balance With Technology
It is pretty rare to see someone without a smartphone in their hands these days. Mobile technology and social media have enlarged the circle of influence each of us have in society today. But it has also created expectations of constant accessibility. The workday never seems to end. There are times when one should just shut their phone off and enjoy the moment. This weekend we were able to meet up with some friends at a restaurant with a live band while we were visiting in Wichita. To our delight, we coincidentally ran into some great friends we hadn't seen in a very long time there. It was so great to catch up, dance, and listen to great music. I didn't bring my phone out to look at any updates - I just enjoyed the moment. We need moments like this.
Procedures and routines - you see that in our Best Instructional Practices Handbook. We use this in classroom management. But what do we do for self-management? It takes a lot to manage our busy schedules. One thing that takes a back seat in our busy schedules is being active. I admit it is tough - but getting up early in the morning and getting the sweat in is worth it. I make it a routine to get up every morning to do this. Think about it. Even when we’re busy, we make time for the crucial things in life. We eat. We go to the bathroom. We sleep. And yet one of our most vital needs - kicking our butt working out - is often the first thing to go when our calendars fill up. Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through your body.
Recently, I joined a cross fit gym with my wife Amanda and daughter Aiyana. I hadn't been to any formal workout facility since moving to Omaha. The last 3 1/2 years have been at Planet Fitness, and the routine was simple - Weights: Monday-Wednesday-Friday Cardio: Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday. We will see how this year stacks up focusing on nutrition and working with a personal trainer again.
Instead of putting pressure on ourselves to achieve a high utopia of work-life balance, we should start focusing on work-life integration: our ability to ensure that our personal and work interests are incorporated into our daily lives and routines. Individuals also have a responsibility for integrating their work and own experiences. Creating authentic relationships with co-workers can even make for better work-life integration. You can do this slowly, moving from “what do you do?” to a discussion about your hobbies and then deeper into your personal life when both parties are comfortable. When we have strong relationships with our teammates, we bring that happiness back to our own lives. #BetterConversations
The Instructional Technology Team is very much a big part of my life here in Omaha. You can see it in how we interact day to day. Dan, our Project Manager, is very much a part of this as well. The things that make us happy at home, also make us happy at work. If a warm and welcoming environment is what is important at your home, it should also `be important in the workplace. If at home, you’ve got friends, you should have an equal number of friends in the workplace. While on the surface we may view “work creep” (work infiltrating our personal lives) as negative, it can be our greatest asset if we manage it properly.
Throughout the last decade, I’ve noticed a shift in thinking. More people are suggesting that the ways work and life overlap might not all be bad. As technology connects us wherever we go, it is important to prioritize our relationships. It doesn't matter if these are work or personal relationships. The days of convincing ourselves that we can separate our work and personal lives are over, and I think we should embrace this change.
These posts are personal. They are not reflective of the Omaha Public Schools District.