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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Brad Feld’s Work –Life Balance Framework

I like Brad’s ideas and writing very much – a well known venture capital partner,powerful writer with strong ideas , his writings are always insightful – Here Brad Feld Writes, until about five years ago, he had absolutely no balance in his life - being on the road from Monday to Friday, arriving home exhausted at the end of the day Friday. Over the weekend –sleep a lot, spend time in front of my computer getting caught up on all the crap that one didn’t get to during the week, and when out, would always be tired and withdrawn. The burnout cycle continued; every six months I’d completely crash from the effort and says that he loved his work, but couldn’t see past it.
After deep discussions within the family, Brad & his wife created a set of well defined rules which he says have evolved over time. The rules evolved into a set of habits which – among others – include (1) Spend Time Away, (2) Life Dinner, (3) Segment Space, (4) Be Present, and (5) Meditate. Examples of each:
- Spend Time Away: Week long vacation each quarter where we completely disappear. No cell phone, no email, no computer, no conference calls - Completely unavailable for the week.
- Life Dinner: We have a standing date on the first day of every month that we call life dinner. Occasionally friends are invited; often it is just a family dinner. We spend the evening talking about the previous month and about the month to come, grounding ourselves in our current reality.
- Segment Space: We treat our houses as a retreat from the world and, while we do plenty of working at home, where we do this is separate and distinct from the rest of the house.
- Be Present: One of Amy’s lines to me is “Brad – be a person.” This is a signal to me that I’m not present in the moment, that something is troubling me, or simply that I’m tired. Whenever I’m not present, it only takes a short phrase to pull me back from wherever I’ve drifted off to.
- Meditate: Everyone should meditate their own way. Four years ago brad says he became a marathoner – the 6 to 10 hours a week run is the current form of meditation. A voracious reader and the 10 hours a week reading extends the meditation time. Brad emphasizes - Do whatever you want, but spend some of your time on yourself.
The habits have created a structure for life that not only encourages but reinforces a healthy work life balance. Work – which used to overwhelm everything else – is still a central part of life. However, it is no longer the singular focus, nor is it the most important thing to me anymore. The balance he adds has helped understand the value of other things, which has made work and – more importantly – life - much more rewarding.

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