Edition 44: I discovered a hole in my pants during a meeting yesterday
Get things done, sort of
This newsletter is supposed to be about emerging leadership, managing, self-care and “work-life balance.”
I’m going to admit to you right now that I actually think work-life balance is a lie.
We can strive to have better balance, but the idea of actually being able to contribute as much to your work as you do to your personal life is impossible. One thing or the other is always taking priority. You will concentrate on work less if your parents are ill. You will concentrate on work more if your company is restructuring. That’s OK.
When I got married this summer, my husband’s grandmother gave us a bit of advice, as part of the Vietnamese tea ceremony. She said this one thing that I think applies far past marriage: “It’s usually a husband and wife taking turns being strong for each other in the moments when the other feels weak.”
Something has to give. You need to let some things go in order to focus on others. You will never balance work and life. If you have, please send me details on how.
A couple years ago, The Cut profiled Audrey Cooper, the editor in chief of the San Francisco Chronicle. Normally I loathe the “how I get it all done” articles. They tend to start with a person waking up at 5 am to get in yoga and meditation, then make a green smoothie from scratch and have breakfast with their families. Uhm. That is not my life. Audrey Cooper talks about how she once got coffee on a gorgeous dress the morning of an event and didn’t have time to do anything but soak it in the women’s bathroom and liberally apply a Tide pen. That is how real people get it done.
We make sacrifices in order to lead. It might mean that we never get to eat breakfast with our families, but we strive to have dinner at least once a week together. We might work after dinner, but you do what you have to do.
Surround yourself with people who will forgive you for not wearing eyeliner one day, or for being atrociously late to a dinner, or not being able to make a party because you are that tired. Don’t apologize for it. It’s what has to be done.
But do try to do something for yourself and others now and again. Splurge on something. Take that day off, even if you have to check email while you’re in line for Space Mountain. Set reasonable expectations for yourself.
About a year ago, I caved in and elected to get a house cleaner to come in once a month to help us out. I hate paying for it. That’s $120 we could spend elsewhere, on something I could theoretically do for myself. It’s lazy. But it’s not. Spending money on someone else to clean so I have an extra hour every weekend to do whatever I want is a God-send.
There’s that saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” I think it’s really more like “Behind every great leader is a forgiving and loving support system.”
I feel like I recommend apps in this section more than anything else, but so be it!
I have too many tabs. Far too many. I use them as bookmarks/to-do lists/reference points. But now I have slightly fewer tabs.
If you use Chrome, I suggest checking out Toby or Workona. Both keep a set of tabs, and organize them so you can close them all and then open them all later. I’ve gotten into the habit of having one set per project. You can move tabs around between the sets. They’re incredibly similar, but I find myself leaning toward Workona, though it might be slowing down my machine.
I also have meant to check out Qlearly, which is sort of like Trello + tab management.
Reading // Pondering // Using // Watching
Reading // Crazy Rich Asians, which is better than the movie // The best look at the extra work it takes to be a journalist of color // “When we are curious, we view tough situations more creatively.” (HBR)
Pondering // Memos. An oft-used but also hated mechanism for bosses, Trying to think of ways to make them better and more digestible, inspired by this Seth Godin blog.
Attemping // First week at the job means that I’m not sleeping as well. Too excited maybe? But I’m getting a little help from various sleep stories, essentially calming kind of boring stories told to me by people with lovely voices. Here’s an amazing interview with the woman who writes them
Watching // Still powering through old The Good Place episodes, but when I’m done I’m looking forward to Homecoming from Sam Esmail, who is brilliant.