This month we’re talking about work/life balance. Have you ever noticed that the formulation of this proportion (some work, some life – probably more work, but entitlement to at least some life) refers to the personal scale of individual experience? Of managing the efficiency of the activities of your own life? Do you take it for granted that it’s your own time management that’s at stake? Should we take it for granted?
My contribution to the discussion this week is to say that achieving a work/life balance isn’t only about bootstrapping it. There’s only so much psychic effort that can be heaped on the problem. Human efficiency has a ceiling. It’s easier to understand this, like most things, by physical analogy. Picture a factory line worker. (Might as well picture Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times). Practice and monetary motivation will enable them to add their part to the object passing down the line at a faster and faster clip. For a time. And then the grade of that learning curve will even out and there’s simply no faster a human hand can move. With cognitive and affective labour there’s a ceiling, too. And I’ll be damned if we’re not practiced (I’ve been in school for 25 years, for instance [10 of those have been university]) or motivated (we all want a job doing what we’re trained to do, these days increasingly less for the ideal of self-realization as for merely being able to make sure we and our families can eat).
So what’s the missing term in the parallel to the original formulation of work/life? There’s work and life; there’s us and…what?