Brad Feld, Partner at VC firm The Foundry and long time supporter of Eric Norlin’s events Glue and defrag, recently presented to TEDxBoulder about his personal strategy of taking a once-a-quarter “week off the grid”. Full video below for those with a spare 8 minutes or so.
The upshot is that one failed marriage and nearly another on the cards, Feld decided that taking one week a quarter completely off the grid to go someplace with his significant other is the approach to keep the relationship on an even keel. Seeing the presentation motivated me to write a post that I’ve been thinking about for quite sometime now. Maybe it’s just me but Feld’s talk is an indication of just how warped we’ve got in this modern age.
I’ll be the first to admit that my schedule is kind of crazy – I’m up at 5am every day to cut out a chunk of work – this year will probably see me fly well over a quarter of a million miles and spend altogether too much time away from my nearest and dearest. But trying to ameliorate that by switching off for a week every three months just seems crazy. Why?
- Firstly because one week a quarter is less than 10% of our time. Feld is saying, to an extent, that he’s prepared to live a life that causes deleterious impacts on his health and his relationships and, in return, he’ll reward himself quality time one week a quarter
- Secondly because disconnecting is a wholly artificial exercise. Work/life balance is, in my opinion, only real when it’s ongoing and built into a daily cycle. While Feld would perhaps argue that his one week a quarter routine is his version of a macro cycle, I’m not convinced
Now don’t get me wrong, Feld’s a great guy (who, admittedly, really needs to come running with me at defrag to get into shape) and I’m not dissing him in any way, rather I guess I’m asking an open question about the world we live in and what we consider work/life balance looks like.
Being a parent really puts this stuff into focus – the disappointment your kids show when you miss their sports day, class play or (heaven forbid) birthday is palpable, but all of us face these issues every day in our work life.
Keen to hear how others deal with this balancing act.