Jun 20, 2008

Work/Life Balance (or Blog/Life Balance)

A couple of blogs I read have recently ceased because the time commitment was too overwhelming for the authors. The authors are parents who wanted to spend more time with their kids, and I found myself questioning whether I'm shortchanging my boys by doing as much as I do. Although I would definitely have more time for them if I cut back on my commitments, I think they get plenty of me and we're all fine. I really enjoy the things I do, and I think it's good for them to see that Mommy has a full life of her own. It does, of course, help tremendously that my husband does at least half of the childcare, probably more.

But since work/blog/life balance has been on my mind lately, I was really struck by an article at Law.com about trying to bring in business as an associate. (Law firms are generally divided into "partners," who own the firm and make the most money, and "associates," who are employees of the firm and may be invited to become a partner, typically in the 7th or 8th year, though that varies.)

The article includes the stories of several young associates who spend quite a bit of time cultivating relationships that they hope will eventually lead to a new client. It also mentions that many associates don't bother.

It was the first associate they profiled that caught my attention, since she's a mom with a young kid who billed 2150 hours last year and spends an additional 20 hours a month on developing business. To put that in perspective, 40 hours for 50 weeks equals 2000 hours. An attorney works more hours than he or she bills, so this attorney is working at least 45 hours per week without taking a vacation (probably more). Additionally, she spends about five hours per week volunteering and developing relationships that she hopes will lead to more.

I don't know this woman personally, but the article at least makes her sound content with her choices. I know many attorneys who wouldn't be, but the vast majority of attorneys who are unhappy with their jobs wouldn't bother cultivating relationships in the first place. So I think it's probable that she's fairly content with her choices and ambitions.

Do I do this? No, but I'm not trying to make partner, nor am I worried about job security. On the other hand, if I didn't have kids and had more time, I would definitely do this. I think the wonderful thing about it is that you are cultivating relationships that can lead to true friendships and maybe help you in the future, even if they don't lead to a future attorney-client relationship. Networking is incredibly important in business, so why wouldn't you do it?

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Networking is everything, but I do think you need to find a balance. Reading the story about the mom who worked 2150 hours last year breaks my heart. To me that doesn't seem like it leaves enough family time but that is just me. I think each individual has to decide what they are comfortable with because there is no universal right answer.

Mercedes said...

I think the key is in striking that balance and the key to that lies on each person. Your balance is not the same as mine. That's why I think there is also a lot of mommy wars regarding WOH/SAH. But we need to understand everyones needs are not like our own and accept them.

I was also sad to see a couple of bloggers suddenly quit blogging. Blogging does take a lot of work and it's very easy to feel overwhelmed if you are not able to strike that balance. I think that maybe scaling back on how much they blogged would have worked for them. But again their balance is different from mine, so probably even that didn't work for them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this! I had always considered blogging to be one of the things I did for *me*. However, lately I'm finding myself struggling more and more to find the balance that I had that allowed me to do so. As more and more responsibility is put upon me at work I find myself with increased hours. I also find that the balance that my husband and I had has also changed when he took on new job in the fall of 2007.

Periodically I find myself wondering if I could afford to stay home.

It has really been a struggle in the past year to continue that balance. I find that it comes and goes but never remains constant.

Chief Family Officer said...

I think the one obvious commonality here is that we all struggle with this issue from time to time. Mercedes, I think you make an excellent point that everyone has a different balancing point and I agree that it's probably the root cause of much of the mommy wars.