I can’t even begin to convey the irony of this post. It is literally Labor Day – a holiday – and I’m sitting in my customary spot on the couch writing this article. Bonus level of irony – I initially claimed this particular spot on the couch because it is positioned so that I can lay down and watch television; sitting upright is for uncommitted people. My prized spot, positioned to maximize slothful behavior, is typically used more for work than leisure.
Another bit of irony is that I took a break from working so that I could write this article, which is essentially more work. When I’m done. I’ll stop working so that I can continue working.
Apparently work is my respite from work. Whenever I’ve been working too much and I need a distraction, I do some work … I just change out the type of work.
That doesn’t make any sense.
I am completely aware of my circumstances and for the most part, I’m okay with it because the only reason it exists like this is because I choose to have it this way, at least for now.
Work / Life is a topic that is frequently discussed whenever a group of architects get together. When I was a bit younger, most of my associates discussed how they were worked to death and were compensated in peanuts for their efforts. I would simply nod my head and say “yeah” a lot – more to fit in than anything else because that never really happened to me. EVER. Sure, there were times when I worked a lot but it was because I felt ownership in the work and wanted it to be the very best product I was capable of creating. We didn’t keep time sheets; our deadlines were identified by the day, not how many hours we had to finish the work. I could have gotten my work done in less time, gone home, and done something else but my work was exciting to me … this is what I wanted to be doing. Why would I want to leave and go do something else?
Eventually, the low salary might have been a drag but I learned a long time ago that you don’t take a job just for the money (“Golden Handcuffs“) and if you can find work that is rewarding and you can make enough money to meet your needs, I think you’re better off than most of the people out there.
If the culture of an architectural office requires their people to routinely make sacrifices for the sake of the business, I think there’s a problem somewhere.
I remember that time in my life very well and I draw upon those feelings and experiences now that my name is on the front door of the office. As a general rule, don’t work overtime in my office. I can only remember a few brief periods where we all came together to get something completed in order to meet a promise we made to a client – but normally everybody can leave when they want. I want people to have a life outside of the office (if that’s what they really want). I am a big believer in that you don’t ask anybody to do something that you yourself aren’t willing to do – and I work more than anyone in my office.
If the culture of an architectural office requires their people to routinely make sacrifices for the sake of the business, I think there’s a problem somewhere. Don’t get me wrong; I like working and would think it pretty cool if all the people in my office loved working so much that it was how they choose to spend their free time … but it certainly isn’t a requirement. I would be devastated if I heard through the architectural grapevine that the someone in my office felt like most of my friends did in the mid-90’s … that you had to work longer and harder than everyone around you.
This is day 3 of my 3-day weekend and I have spent the vast majority of it working. Between exchanging text messages with a client, visiting job sites (that I couldn’t make it to during the week) to check on progress, working on a professional development project (that might literally be killing me), working on the beginning outline of a presentation I am participating in during the Texas Society of Architect convention, writing this post … I literally took the opportunity to go to the grocery store because it would be a break.
I wrote something last week that basically told architecture students that they should define themselves by something other than the work they create; get a hobby or something. While I believe that to be true, I am not an architecture student and therefore believe that I can say the one thing and behave in a completely opposite manner. For example – writing this blog post is work and yes, it is frequently “architecture” related. I don’t have to write it, I could lay down on the couch and reclaim my rightful horizontal position in front of the television if I wanted to. Some days I want that more than others, but based on the emails I receive, I think I’m making a difference for people and as a result, feel some sort of responsibility to postpone my time on the couch – not forever, but for a bit longer.
But don’t think I am asking you to feel sorry for me – it’s the exact opposite. I have so many cool things happening right now that I can barely stand it. I am excited. I am exhausted. I am energized. I am stressed, I am anxious … I am alive.
Unless you’re mad at me, otherwise, I am not alive and please send a donation to my wife in lieu of flowers.
Quite literally the worst thing I could think of is having a job and a life where one only began when the other one ended. I hope you enjoy what you do enough that you have trouble separating one from the other as well.
This is the 12th entry into a series titled “ArchiTalks”.
When I started #ArchiTalks, I wanted people to discover that architects have different experiences, backgrounds, and objectives. Despite architects all getting lumped together with a handful of broad stereotypes, we are all onions … we have layers.
If you would like to see how other architects responded to the topic of “Work | Life”, just follow the links below.
brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Brady Ernst – Family Man Since 08/01/2015
Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
Work/Life…What an Architect Does
Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
work | life :: dance
Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
The One Secret to Work – Life Balance
Daniel Beck – The Architect’s Checklist (@archchecklist)
Work Life Balance: Architecture and Babies – 5 Hints for Expecting Parents
Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
Work is Life
Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@thatarchstudent)
studio / life
Lindsey Rhoden – SPARC Design (@sparcdesignpc)
Work Life Balance: A Photo Essay
Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Work / Life
Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
Living an Integrated Life as a Small Firm Architect
Collier Ward – Thousand Story Studio (@collier1960)
Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Work/Life — A Merger
Jonathan Brown – Proto-Architecture (@mondo_tiki_man)
Architecture: Work to Live
Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design / The Missing 32% Project (@miss32percent)
Work Life Fit: A New Focus for Blurred Lines
Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks: Imbalanced and uninterrupted
Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
ArchiTalks #12: Balance is a Verb.
Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
I Just Can’t Do This Anymore
Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
An Architect’s House
Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Father, Husband, Architect – typically in that order
Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (@businessofarch)
Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Work / Life : Life / Work
Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
what makes you giggle? #architalks
Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design (@modarchitect)
Turning Work Off
Tara Imani – Tara Imani Designs, LLC (@Parthenon1)
On Work: Life Balance – Cattywampus is as Good as it Gets
Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
midnight in the garden of [life] and [work]
Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
Work = 1/3 Life