We're writing this in New York's La Guardia airport waiting for our connecting flight to Atlanta. Actually, Atlanta is not the final destination as in a couple of days we will be moving on to Costa Mesa for the OCEAN User Group's Annual Conference. OCEAN is a great group and works really hard to put on this event every year.
Like many user groups around the world, OCEAN struggles these days to attract volunteers. People sign up for positions thinking that it would be nice to "help out" for a year or two, only to find that nobody comes forward to replace them. So they stay in the job longer than they had intended--a situation which does not go unnoticed by their potential replacements. It seems to be a self-perpetuating situation. People can't roll off the job because there's nobody to replace them, and potential replacements won't come forward because they're afraid they will get trapped!
Perhaps it is all tied up in the whole life-work balance thing. While we wouldn't argue that cell phones and other portable devices add a lot to our lives, they also seem to make it impossible to get away from work. Case in point. When we speak at a conference it is not uncommon for at least one member of the audience to be texting away (or even answering the phone which is frankly rude and _really__ annoying) and they will then often end up pulling out a laptop and proceed to sign on to their system to sort out what we assume is the "crisis de jour." It didn't used to be that way. Most folks when away from the office would perhaps call in at lunchtime to see what was going on, but that was about it. The office survived. In all probability nobody died. So what is so all-fired important that today we can't even seem to escape the clutches for more than an hour or two? It is hard to believe that our efforts are really that much more critical to the well being of the business than they were say five or six years ago. What's the big difference?
In part this thinking comes about because following OCEAN we had decided to take a week's vacation on the California coast and rented a beachfront apartment. We began to realize though how screwed up our work-life priorities have become when we found ourselves listing high-speed internet as a "must have" for any potential vacation home. Now we can always make the excuse that since we run our own business it's important for us to stay in touch with our clients. As it happens, we also discovered that three of our ongoing projects have deadlines rapidly approaching and that we are going to have little choice but to work during at least part of our vacation - but at least we'll be able to do so with a view of the ocean!
Our friend Trevor Perry often delivers a session called "Get a Life" where he encourages people to find their passion and to get their work-life balance in order. Perhaps we need to attend the session again and take more notes this time! In the meantime perhaps you could share your own secrets. In the face of the growing pressures of an ever-connected world, how do you find time for a life?