Work-life balance is not a number

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure” is a quote often attributed to Peter Drucker that has become accepted as a truth. Think how often you have heard it cited in a meeting. Guess what? He never said it!!

Here is adogma-if-you-cant-measure-it-you-cant-manage-itn example of what Drucker actually believed, as shared by the Drucker Institute; “Your first role . . . is the personal one,” Drucker told Bob Buford, a consulting client then running a cable TV business, in 1990. “It is the relationship with people, the development of mutual confidence, the identification of people, the creation of a community. This is something only you can do.” Drucker went on: “It cannot be measured or easily defined. But it is not only a key function. It is one only you can perform.” 

Finding work-life balance forces us to focus on more than how much can I get done in each day and a numerical balance point of “work” time and “life” time.

One of my favorite writers in the New York Times, the Sketch Guy, put it this way; “We can make as many lists as we want and count as many things as we like. But people aren’t widgets, and much of our leisure time is about time spent with the people who matter to us,” and with people, “doing nothing measurable is one of the most important things we do.” Doing nothing

I struggle with this paradox as I plan my week ahead. Meetings, projects, workout schedules, and parenting events all require my attention! And all can be counted, or checked, or crossed off and then tallied up, which feels good. Yet, I still end up feeling out of whack and not balanced if I ignore “doing nothing” with people for too long.

One small step I have taken over the past 5 years is to hold Sunday evenings to get together with a couple of buddies to just shoot pool and “shoot the breeze.” We have no agenda, we aren’t very good at pool, and we don’t want to join a league. No one takes attendance but most Sunday evenings two or three of us are there “doing nothing.”

What do you do to “do nothing” with people in your busy schedule?

Todd Thorsgaard

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