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Decoding work-life balance

If you are building a product that tries to be everything for everyone, history tells you that you are very likely to fail. The common advice you get is to pick one problem for a specific audience and get really good at solving it. This is how successful companies are built.

I've been toying with the idea of approaching my life in the same way. But have been running into some difficulties.

For a product to specialise in a core task is one thing. When the audience isn't interacting with it for that use case, the product is lying dormant, just waiting to be summoned for the use case that it serves.

Whereas, we have to be active twenty four hours a day, every day, irrespective of whether we are being summoned for that one use case or not.

So, naturally, when we are immersed in that one thing - be it work or writing or something else, we are completely engaged and are performing at our peak.

But, there invariably are times when we aren't focused on that all-engaging task, either because of depleted resources or fatigue, and we need to engage in something else while we replenish the depleted resources and overcome the fatigue.

At times, I've operated with one thing as an all-encompassing priority. While this is a great way to operate to take long strides and make quick progress in that area, it creates emptiness in the time that I'm not engaged in this task. For example, if I'm spending three hours a day writing (outside of work), I make enormous progress on that front, but I still have 4-5 hours in the day where I'm too exhausted to write, and have nothing else that I'm equally passionate about which I can do while my creativity recovers.

Over time, I've found it to be a more productive strategy to spread the passion across 3-5 complimentary tasks. While this results in slower progress across any individual area over a given period of time, it helps keep the emptiness to a minimum.

This is how I look at work-life balance now.

It isn't exactly a balance between work and life, but a balance of spreading my passion across multiple things that I care about. While I'm having a hard workout at the gym, my creativity replenishes. My body rests and recovers while I read, write, or sleep. Listening to music and cooking a new dish every day gives me time to assimilate thoughts and ideas that I can later structure and put down into meaningful ideas, be it at work or in my writing/stand-up comedy.

Work-life balance isn't about working nine to five and then shutting off for the day to do something else. It isn't about compartmentalizing our lives to  separate different aspects and not let them cross over.

Work-life balance is simply about engaging in everything that we do in a deep and passionate way, such that we are never fatigued by engaging in any one task nor are we feeling guilty about not engaging in the highest priority task all the time.

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