[Insert joke about my Carnival of Journalism fail being missing the deadline]
My time on the RJI fellowship has been amazing, but also really brought to the forefront a big “fail” in my life; similar to Steven Fox’s fail post, I learned that I really need to work on my work-life balance.
One of the great blessings (and burdens) of having an opportunity like this fellowship has been the ability to focus very acutely and deeply on a research topic area. Before in the normal world, there was a very clear 9-7ish “work day” and then personal time (which I’d still spend a good amount of time doing research, reading, writing and experimenting). With the fellowship though, there isn’t that “work day” barrier, so I perhaps took that too far, and ended up spending way too much time working and not enough time living. This past semester, I spent more time on the road than I actually did at home and while I relished all the opportunities to teach, consult, interview and attend tech and training events — and I wouldn’t do it any different for this year — as I’m wrapping things up, I’ve begun to realize that going forward I need to assess my work-life balance and optimize:
- Focus more on specific areas/skills. There’s no award for being the most well-read person in every area possible (and frankly, there’s basically little to no attribution for being the person that turns others on to innovative ideas and information). There’s no stock bonus for having the most RSS feeds read. It’s just not possible to be an expert in everything and I’m working find a more comfortable balance and deeper specialized focus.
- Prioritize some of my volunteer efforts, be much more careful about over-committing to after-hours/extra projects. I still believe it’s critically important to give back to the industry and craft, but this year I took on a lot and it definitely tested me. I’ve been working on co-leading SND St. Louis conference for most of the year and the NPPA Multimedia Immersion; both are huge undertakings on their own. Especially when you add them to many other commitments including my ONA Board responsibilities, such as helping launch and manage the ONA Issues project, the MJ Bear Fellowships, and the many conference calls, emails, etc. Then toss in all the extra training workshops I do, guest speaking at schools, consulting work, and trying to feed my dog and make sure I have time to brush my teeth.
- Balance / leverage time and money. While I still really enjoy DIY experiences such as spending a sunny afternoon changing my oil or detailing my car but I’ve really started to appreciate the benefit that paying for something I don’t want to do to save significant amounts of time and energy. Beloved Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch has an awesome lecture on time management that everyone should see (actually check out all his lectures, he was a gem and an inspiration).
- Work smarter, use new technology and techniques to help do this. I’ve been seeking out different tools, techniques, ideas and workflows to help boost my productivity and really find the best 80-20 balance to get the most out of my 24 hours each day.
Everyone has to make their own work-life judgement calls and find their own personal balance. I’m blessed to have this experience and grateful for everything I’ve learned, especially the life lesson it taught me. I’d like to share some of my lifehacks / workflow hacks with you, so I’ll be hosting next month’s Carnival of Journalism and it’s going to focus on the the last two items on this list. Stay tuned for more info this week.