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August 26, 2007

I've Encountered a Job Hazard

On Friday night I tweeted about how my play and work lives were colliding with some unanticipated consequences. (It has nothing to do with alcohol, Fred) I'm sensing that my ability to separate work and play is eroding. Here's my story...

For the most part, I read blogs for fun. I've made a little extra money here and there reading and writing about blogs, so it wasn't exactly all just for fun. But still, I really like reading blogs.

But now that I'm getting paid for following real estate blogs, I'm finding it difficult to draw a line between play and work. That's a mixed bag. Sure, I love that I get paid to be part of the virtual conversation (I'm mostly listening right now), but my eyes are wandering to the real estate blogs when I could be doing non-work things. Let me make it perfectly clear that I am enjoying reading real estate blogs, but it's still part of my work.

I used to be able to draw a bright line between work and my outside interests. Now, I'm discovering that it has become a bit muddy. I could equate it to what I think life as a food critic might be like. I don't think a food critic could have an ordinary meal. You're always critiquing it, which is your work. So it is with me. I can't surf the web without straying to the real estate blogs.

I'm trying to figure out if this is something I can change, or something that I just need to cope with. Anyone got a job hack here? I'm listening.

Tagged: ; ; ;


Anonymous said...

If you figure out how to separate work from play, let me know. In both my jobs, real estate and officiating, I find them spilling over into personal time, and into each other, even. Although I'm not convinced it is a completely negative thing. I think that sometimes you just have to make a conscious effort to concentrate on one or the other at certain times. Or, alternatively, concentrate on something completely different. ou

Dave S. said...

BMart, It's a vexing challenge and I'm up against it too. Granted it's not real estate / blogs that I follow, but it's the same scenario. The lines started to get so fuzzy that I decided that I needed to find something completely unrelated to my day job and what I enjoy. As much as I struggle with disconnecting, I find that the few hours I take every week away from all of it are relaxing and centering and actually help me do a better job and be more creative.

No great secret here, it's more about making the choice and sticking with it. Some days / weeks are better than others, but it seems to work at least for now.

David Gammel said...

Years ago, someone asked me how I got into working with the Web. I said I was self taught, it had started as a hobby and evolved into getting me a job.

He said, "So you have a job doing what used to be your hobby? We should all be so lucky."

Relax! You are working on stuff that you used to just do for the pure enjoyment. It only becomes 'work' (ie: not fun) if you let yourself define it that way.

You should giggle all the way home at the end of the day that someone agreed to pay you to do this stuff. :)

Anonymous said...

Bah, that's nothing.

Try balancing when your work IS play, and vice versa ;)

Jason Della Rocca
International Game Developers Association

Lisa Junker said...

I've found that keeping my computer in the living room where my 18-month-old can see me using it is very helpful. As soon as she sees me open the laptop, she tries to bang on the keyboard, which prevents me from web-surfing at all!

Seriously, though, I would say that as long as you're enjoying the time you spend reading real estate blogs, it's not a problem. I'm sure there are all kinds of things you do outside of work that help you to do a better job when you're at work, to the benefit of VAR and to your own benefit as well.

If you start to feel stressed because you feel obligated to spend a lot of time at home researching real estate blogs, that's a different conversation, but if you're enjoying yourself, go with it!

Hilary said...

Ben, I also struggle with this. On one hand, I regularly think of the saying that if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. On the other hand, once a hobby becomes your work, it is important to draw some boundaries around it. Even though I know this, I find it really, really hard.

Real estate is such a common topic of conversation that it's pretty impossible to ignore it. And online, it's especially pervasive. People write about the markets, their agent, the online tools, how to sell a property, express their opinions about the industry, etc. Once I joined NAR, my real estate interest, and the awareness of the conversations about it online, ratcheted way up -- sounds like you're finding the same thing.

If you come up with some tricks for setting boundaries, please do let me know!

Jim Duncan said...

Um ... you get paid for doing what I do for far too long every day? And the complaint is ... ?

Diyana said...

This just started now? My life has been blurred permanently by this work/fun line. I very much enjoy my work, so it's easy for me to keep doing it even when I'm not working. When I volunteer for my kids, like the PTO or Girl Scouts, I end up doing the same kind of stuff I do at work.

I guess the important thing is that we remember how to have fun without involving work!

Matt Baehr said...

I am with D-Gam and Jim-D on this one. What is the problem?

Until you feel like you aren't getting to do your fun stuff and not having an outlet other than "work" defined activities, smile and be happy!

Ben Martin, CAE said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone. I'll be sure to keep you updated on how this progresses.

Chris Bailey said...

Hey Ben, kinda late to the conversation - but then again there really is no statute of limitations on commenting, right?

I think we get too hung up on trying to separate work and play, creating divisions and compartmentalizing them in order to save ourselves from the dreaded plight of workaholism. You clearly enjoy the work and seem confused by the notion that it feels like play. That's fantastic and becomes unhealthy when your blog work becomes obsessive, stifling other areas of your life.

Breathe. You're encountering work in its best form...when it actually feels like play. Now, spread that workplay goodness throughout your org :)