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5 Comments // Filed in Business / Etc

Separate or Together? Work, Life, and Happiness

Let me get this out of the way: I don’t believe in “work-life balance.” There are only work-life priorities. Sometimes work takes precedent, to our detriment or not, and other times, life takes the lead. However, we still try our damnest to get it all to gel. There are two trains of through in order to do this: separate work and life completely or integrate work into your life even more.

The former has been popularized by The 4-Hour Workweek where Tim Ferris encourages separation of purely financially-driven activity from pleasure-driven activity while the latter has been written through several blog posts, two of which were on 24ways: A Pet Project is For Life, Not Just for Christmas and Make Out Like a Bandit.

Now, I love design (of all types) and I love making money through design so I don’t necessarily want to completely separate my “financially driven” activity from what I consider fun. Work shouldn’t be a drudge! But, to me, creating personal projects that are almost directly tied to skills in your day job, can help burn you out instead of re-inspire you. I mean, one can only take so much staring at Photoshop even if one is a paid client project, and the other is a passion project. You’re still in Photoshop (or your software of choice). You’re still designing. You’re still… well, you’re still working. You’ve just switched clients from someone else to yourself, and as we all know, we’re all our own worst clients.

So what to do? I don’t want to separate work and pleasure completely, nor do I want to completely integrate my hobbies to my work. Here’s the deal: design is my passion but it sure as hell isn’t my entire life. (no offense to those who have Design is Life mandates)

My proposal? Limit the amount of hobbies you integrate into your work that may or may not make money (perhaps maximum 1 or 2) and the rest, keep it offline. Don’t even think about monetizing the rest. It will guarantee that it’s strictly in the hobby mindset because you’re not necessarily out to make money off of it. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that sometimes people on the web live in this strange vacuum where only the internet, design, and code exist and of course, trying to profit from it. Sometimes, it could be nicer for certain things to remain analog, offline, and private.

I think that might be a good compromise.

5 blabs to Separate or Together? Work, Life, and Happiness

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Well said, Lea. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

Happiness has been the missing ingredient, so I’ve been evaluating the things I sink time into, and more importantly, what I get out of them.

I’ve recently discovered that offline hobbies generally leave me in a happier state of mind when I’m through with them. And as such, I’m striving to make more time for such activities.

Coming to terms with the facts that I’ll always have to work, and always be in debt (in one form or another), was a tough hurdle for me to get over. Having accepted that, I have to make sure I have things going on that truly make me happy. And the best way to do that, as you’ve stated, is to have activities that are completely segregated from my work life.

Picture of Rich

Name Rich

Date Jan 15
06:25 PM

You’ve summed up and clarified what the work-life balance game is about pretty well. It’s a lot of gray, but it’s about managing the gray that makes sense at the time.

I also liked the part about profit. I know that topic has been on my mind a lot lately, too, and I think designers and developers are finally warming up to marketing and ROIs.

Hi Lea,
Great discussion here. It’s especially important for the creative type industries to keep moral high with little hobbies that keep the brain juices flowing. That’s the way I look at hobbies that are integrated into my work-life balance.

Picture of A_M2Be

Name A_M2Be

Date Jun 09
11:45 AM

Hi Lea, Kind of discovered your blog, was actually looking for some inspiring designs . Anyway, couldn`t help but read on what you had to say ,but i think having a healthy balance in life is important. it is kind of easy to get absorbed in work especially something you enjoy doing ,in my case anyway (because i find myself thinking about work even when i am not working) but it is better if you could unplug from work and enjoy smaller things in life. All that is what i try to do , cuz i do believe in Work to live, and not Live to work.

Agree with your comments. So often we get caught up in the money side we do forget to live.
I am one who left corporate life and started working my passion, only to find that was all I was doing was working. Agree with your thoughts that we all need hobbies that we just enjoy doing, not for sale!!

As Margaret Fuller once said, “Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live.”

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