Does wanting balance mean you are lazy?

I stumbled across an egregious example of a pernicious trend in Businessweek today, in a piece entitled Do U.S. Business Majors Have a Case of Ambition Deficit Disorder? The author, Francesca Di Meglio, posed this question after learning that 61% of US business majors said that their highest career priority was work-life balance. The tone of the article is pretty strident that this represents a moral failing of the Millennials in business schools, and that other possible goals — like advancing in management, or seeking out challenging work — should be higher in the rankings.
The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence starts with this famous sentence,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Altogether too frequently, it seems to me, commentary about how people should be spending their time, and what we should consider valuable, forgets the simple and inherent importance of pursuing happiness. And working 60 hours a week for 40 years is not necessarily the short path to get there.
Cali Williams Yost wrote a thoughtful post on this subject, 3 Reasons “Balance” Has Become A Dirty Word At Work. Yost relates a discussion with a senior executive about Millennials, where he shares the “Millennials are lazy” meme. Yost thinks the truth is different:

He is not alone in that thinking. The meme that Gen-Y/Millennials “don’t want to work hard” exists, in part, because they talk so openly about work-life balance. But is the bias fair?
First, there will always be people in every generation who don’t want to work hard. The Gen-Y/Millennials are no exception, but is it accurate to ascribe that quality to an entire generation simply because they are open about how they want to make their lives both on and off the job a priority?

She goes on to answer  that question in the negative, citing new evidence from the American Psychological Association about workplace retention [emphasis mine]:

Although 60 percent of working Americans said they remain with their current employers because of benefits and 59 percent reported staying because of the pay, more than two-thirds (67 percent) said they choose to stay because their jobs fit well with the other aspects of their lives. Sixty-seven percent also said they stay at their current jobs because they enjoy the work they do. Even with the slow economic recovery and relatively high unemployment, only 39 percent of respondents cited lack of other job opportunities as a reason for staying with their current employers.
“Americans spend a majority of their waking hours at work and, as such, they want to have harmony between their job demands and the other parts of their lives,” says David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, head of APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. “To engage the workforce and remain competitive, it’s no longer sufficient to focus solely on benefits. Today, top employers create an environment where employees feel connected to the organization and have a positive work experience that’s part of a rich, fulfilling life.”

Yost makes the case that Millennials are simply more likely to expect that desire for balance to be openly discussed, and to involve increased flexibility of where, when, and how work is performed. This is the internet generation, and they know that they can do some parts of their work anywhere. However, their boomer overlords and Gen X are more likely to want them in the office 9-to-5 to match the perceptions and norms of an earlier era.
But I don’t expect to hear the end of the ‘ambition deficit disorder’ meme anytime soon.

It’s Okay to Work at the Kitchen Table

I used to agree with the common recommendation that lines should be clearly drawn between one’s business and personal space. But my life as an entrepreneur is very different than those with “regular jobs.” I like the blurred lines between home life and work life.

The Importance of Breaks and Time Off

I’ve been working on several big projects in recent months, and after the whirlwind started settling down, I realized how important it was to take time off. How can we ensure that we get enough time away from our work before burning ourselves out?

Can You Be Personal and Professional in Social Media?

There have been plenty of blog posts and discussions recently about how you need to be “personal” across the various social media web sites, even when communicating on behalf of your company or brand. Social media is about conversations, and people have conversations with other people, not faceless corporations. So you want to come across as a person talking with people, not at them, unlike the traditional one-way marketing broadcasts of yesteryear.

In this post, I am going to focus specifically on how to balance the personal with the professional, but you should also read Aliza’s post about revisiting her 10 golden rules of social media for more best practices. Read More about Can You Be Personal and Professional in Social Media?

Streamline Your Work for Better Time and Business Management

Less than a week into the New Year, “streamlining” has popped up as a trend in articles around the web. Streamlining focuses on making changes to simplify processes and become more efficient, and the start of a new year is a logical time for most people to do a review and see what areas of their lives could be ripe for some changes. Read More about Streamline Your Work for Better Time and Business Management

Why Web Working Rocks: It Lets Us Live in the Moment

The holiday season gives us many opportunities to make memories. 20 years from now, we’ll reflect back on the fun times and the sad times we’ve had.

Many of us are web workers because we want to spend less time commuting to work and more quality time with family, doing things we enjoy year-round. But life sometimes gets in the way and we forget to enjoy the little moments. Read More about Why Web Working Rocks: It Lets Us Live in the Moment

Dealing With the Avalanches In Life and Business

When did Noah build the ark, Gladys? Before the rain. Before the rain.
– Nathan Muir, Spy Game

In recent months, I’ve become acutely aware of how life and business can easily conflict with each other. It seems that the work involved in creating a successful business is never done, and if there’s an avalanche to come in life, it’s going to happen when there are deadlines looming and there’s a mountain of work to be done. Read More about Dealing With the Avalanches In Life and Business

Just How Connected Are You?

A press release that Nokia sent out overnight caught my eye:

More than half of working Americans – 53 percent – have been interrupted by a work-related phone call or email while in the bathroom…. Twenty-four percent have allowed a call or email to interrupt them while in the throes of passion, and 23 percent while on a date. That may be because most working Americans – 59 percent – never turn off their mobile device.

Nokia claims that these numbers (collected from an online survey) are representative of US adults with a 4.4% margin of error. Of course, they have a technology pitch for tools that are supposed to help you maintain a better work-life balance, but it’s those raw numbers that fascinate me.
Read More about Just How Connected Are You?

Mac 101: Open Mutiple Files in Preview Simultaneously

When I have a large photo set I would like to look at in OS X the quickest and easiest way is to open them with Preview. Unfortunately, when you click on one picture that is in the same folder as the rest of the pictures, Preview doesn’t automatically recognize the photo is a part of a set and let you scroll through them all at once (you have to open each one individually).

To open photos as a set in Preview all you have to do is:

  1. Highlight all of them (click the first picture in the set and while holding shift click the last photo in the set)
  2. Right click on them
  3. Chose “Open with” > Preview