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The concept of work/life balance is wildly outdated.

A holdover from the 20th century, in which work at home meant a briefcase full of legal pads or someone calling your landline, it makes no sense in today’s world.

Work/life balance has outlived its usefulness. Here’s why:
The term “work/life” itself has a bunch of wrong assumptions baked into it.

First, that work is separate from (and not a part of) life. Two, that work and life together comprise the totality of human existence. Three, that achieving balance between them is important/desirable.
This anachronistic idea of “work/life balance” was popularized in the 1970s and 1980s to clarify expectations about what hours workers were expected to be in the office at IBM/GE/AT&T-style megacorps.

In patriarchal terms, during which hours did you have to wear a tie? 👨🏼‍💼
From the 1990s through today, big companies (but also a number of smaller ones) propagate this idea of work/life balance as a stand-in for “good place to work.”

In Microsoft’s yearly employee survey, for instance, work/life balance is always carefully scrutinized by managers.
Here’s the reality though: for many of us, work is an incredibly important part of our lives.

Not because it is required to be, but because we want it to be. It enriches and educates and stimulates and drives us.

It is something we care about, part of our identity.
But even for people who don’t see their jobs as a part of their identity, work is no longer something that can be confined to the old-fashioned 9-to-5 workday (with or without the three-martini lunch).

Separating out what is work and what is life isn’t always clear or relevant.
Phones/Slack/email mean that almost everyone is letting some work bleed into their personal life.

And here’s the rub: it cuts the other way, too. People engage in life at work, checking Twitter, Reddit, watching video, etc. The boundary between “work” and “life” is permeable.
Here’s the problem: work/life balance is a broken concept because it childishly simplifies the actual struggle of balancing a world full of richness into a dull dichotomy.

The expectation that there’s just “work” and “life” doesn’t fit and makes people feel like they’re failing.
As an example, for me work contains: coding, designing, interviewing, meetings, 1:1s, press and analyst calls, thinking, reading, traveling, writing, etc.

Some of these things give me energy, and some sap my energy. I need the right balance of all of these things to be happy.
Life, on the other hand, includes for me: spending time with kids + wife, sleeping, eating, exercising, cleaning, sex, finances, socializing, laundry, hobbies, etc.

Some of these make me happy, some of them I dread. As with work, there are many parts—I need a balance here, too.
So when the world tells us we should care about work/life balance, or when interview candidates ask a company “do you have a great work/life balance”, the framework itself sets us up to get a shallow, meaningless retort.

We’re trained to believe there’s a certain “right” answer.
Instead of work/life balance, think about all of the aspects of your life (including everything that is part of “work”) and figure out what gives you energy and what takes your energy.

What is necessary? What is growing you? What gives you pleasure?

And balance those things.
During a job interview, don't ask about “work/life balance.” Instead, find out how much flexibility the employer allows to help achieve your balance.

Flexible hours? Flexible time off? Culture that supports intermingling of personal/work? Culture that supports a growth mindset?
Be thoughtful about how *all* the parts of your life, considered together, fit into one whole—then balance those.

There are no rules or right answers for what you discover. Work and life and everything else are all just you!

Work/life balance, as a concept, needs to go. 🙏🏼
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