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Episode 4: Debunking the work-life balance myth

For many of today’s employ­ees, it is no longer pos­si­ble to sep­a­rate work and life the way we used to. Emails fill our inbox­es after hours, our homes have become our offices, and we car­ry noti­fi­ca­tions from boss­es and col­leagues in our pock­ets at all times.

The notion of ​“work-life bal­ance” has there­fore lit­tle res­o­nance for the mod­ern workplace.

But is that a bad thing?

In this episode, Jor­dan and Jason argue that work and life have the same aim (ful­fill­ment) and there­fore should be seen as two means of reach­ing the same end.

They urge lis­ten­ers to move from a work-life bal­ance mind­set to the ​“66% of time” mind­set — a view that allo­cates eight hours a day (or one third of life) to sleep and the oth­er two-thirds of time to seek­ing ful­fill­ment in and out­side of work.

Key ideas and highlights

  • Some of the best parts of life hap­pen at work — mile­stones achieved, skills devel­oped, & rela­tion­ships formed
  • For employ­ees that work from home or from a com­put­er, work no longer has the built in lim­its that it did in the past
  • The ​“66% of time” mind­set: life can be split into two groups of time. One third is ded­i­cat­ed to sleep and the oth­er two thirds, or 66%, is avail­able for seek­ing fulfillment.
What do we do with the 66% of time we’re not sleep­ing? The val­ues that you hold high­est should fill all of the time that you’re not sleep­ing. It’s not a mat­ter of whether I’m at work or at home. The things I’m aim­ing for — pur­pose, flour­ish­ing, mean­ing — are the same. — Jason Murray

Now avail­able on: Apple Pod­casts | Spo­ti­fy | YouTube

Learn more about how you can retain employ­ees and reduce the costs of your peo­ple pro­grams with Fringe.

Word of the day

24:02 — Anachronistic ✨


  • 0:00 Intro
  • 7:22 The mis­placed assump­tions behind the notion of work-life balance
  • 8:36 Debunk­ing the work/​life bal­ance myth
  • 12:01 Why work and life don’t have to com­pete with one another
  • 14:26 How the his­to­ry of work has shaped how we think about work
  • 18:56 What the work used to have built-in limits
  • 22:22 Where peo­ple are seek­ing community
  • 29:14 Mov­ing to a ​“66% of time” mindset
  • 30:53 Why ​“ful­fill­ment” is a bet­ter aim than work/​life balance
  • 35:00 The role com­mu­ni­ty plays in staving off fear and anxiety
  • 38:54 The key to mak­ing work more meaningful


Jor­dan (00:05):

How many hours and years of our lives do we spend on work for near­ly all of us, we spend 30+ years and one third of our days in our voca­tion — more time per­haps, than we spend at rest or at play. But this isn’t a prob­lem. Why? Because work is good. Work needs to be inte­grat­ed deeply into our lives and must be in line with our most impor­tant goals and val­ues. And if it is, we have a far more com­plete and ful­fill­ing life expe­ri­ence. Wel­come to the How Peo­ple Work pod­cast, where we explore the inter­sec­tion of how humans think and act and how they apply them­selves to their work. When you under­stand both of these things, you’ll be equipped to be insight­ful, com­pas­sion­ate, and com­pelling leaders.


All right. Wel­come back to How Peo­ple Work. Episode, what are we on? Four?Jason, Jason, episode four. And today we’re going to be talk­ing about work-life bal­ance. In fact, Jason and I have been talk­ing the last 10, 15 min­utes already. We prob­a­bly should have pressed record before now but it’s a com­pelling top­ic for us. It’s one that I like to jump right in. We maybe are one of the one or two gen­er­a­tions that have expe­ri­enced the shift from when the phrase work-life bal­ance made a lot of sense to win. Now it makes zero sense. And so it’s inter­est­ing to kind of walk that jour­ney from child­hood and see­ing what that bal­ance looked like to now that not even being an avail­able thing in life and fig­ur­ing out a way to be okay with that and fig­ure out a way to nav­i­gate life in a dif­fer­ent way than our par­ents did. So, fun top­ic. Inter­est­ing. Very kind of philo­soph­i­cal and -

Jason (01:49):

Iron­i­cal­ly, very per­son­al today. Yes. Just know­ing that you and I both are kind of start­ing our work day as we record this, which the audi­ence won’t know in the evening because wives and chil­dren have been sick all day and we’ve had our hands full doing oth­er things.

Jor­dan (02:05):

There was no bal­ance what­so­ev­er. It, it’s 8:30 PM and this is the first work I’ve done today.

Jason (02:10):

It’s just not Fringe work. It was oth­er things. So yeah, I think this whole notion of work life bal­ance or this dichoto­my between work and life. I mean, where I’d love to start is just maybe kick­ing around the notion: how did we even get here? I’ve kind of engaged on LinkedIn with a bunch of con­ver­sa­tions, peo­ple talk­ing about this thing. And I think just what’s run through my mind often is: how did we even get to this place where it’s like, Hey, we’ve got work life bal­ance and it’s this big thing and every­one’s talk­ing about it, and work seems to kind of be the ene­my in that par­a­digm. And it just kind of leaves me won­der­ing, how did we get here with that?

Jor­dan (02:53):

Yeah. I think it’s com­ing from a good place. I think the idea of work life bal­ance is com­ing from a place of self-pro­tec­tion. And maybe even bet­ter than that, maybe we’re try­ing to pro­tect each oth­er soci­etal­ly or in our com­pa­nies, we’re try­ing to look at each oth­er and say, ​“Hey, don’t over­do it.” And when we say that, we’re always talk­ing about work, right? Don’t over­do the work. Right? Don’t check the emails too late at night. Don’t stay too long. Don’t what­ev­er, sleep under your desk, what­ev­er. Which I actu­al­ly would rec­om­mend not doing that. So I think it’s com­ing from a good place. But to what you just said work is the ene­my. The assump­tion is work is bad, life is good. Life uplifts us and work drags us down. Right?

Jason (03:41):


Jor­dan (03:42):

Every­body’s work­ing for the week­end, right? Right. I mean, there’s songs about this and get­ting your pay­check on a Friday.

Jason (03:47):

Five o’clock somewhere.

Jor­dan (03:47):

It’s five o’clock some­where. It’s all about get­ting through the work to get to the fun and the assump­tion that life is all fun and work is all not fun.

Jason (03:57):

And that it’s a means to an end.

Jor­dan (03:58):

It’s a means to an end. And I think that is the par­a­digm that you and I very much dis­agree with and would love to tear down in our con­ver­sa­tion today if we can.

Jason (04:09):

Very much so.

Jor­dan (04:10):

I think we are big believ­ers that work is actu­al­ly good and that now there are some qual­i­fiers. There are some ways in which work needs to be good or can be made good by these qual­i­fiers. The fact that the work is mean­ing­ful, that I feel con­fi­dent in the work. I know how to do the work. I have the skills, have the intel­li­gence. I’ve got the moti­va­tion, right? Yes. I want to do the work that’s impor­tant. I’m get­ting com­pen­sat­ed to do the work, right? There’s an incen­tive and there’s maybe peo­ple I get to work along­side. And so this is not just that, well, I just pick up a shov­el and I dig a hole, and every sin­gle time it’s super sat­is­fy­ing, right? Not the point. But it’s also not always dis­sat­is­fy­ing. It’s always, it’s not always toil. It’s not always, oh, I’m exhaust­ed. I hat­ed every minute of that. I can’t wait to get home and get to my life.

Jason (05:07):

Right, right. Well, it’s prob­a­bly only fair to give the dev­il’s due a lit­tle bit here, because there is some­thing about this dichoto­my that is appeal­ing. I mean, there’s just a sim­plic­i­ty of some­thing that’s that bina­ry, that’s easy to grasp onto. And I think it’s root­ed in some­thing that feels a lit­tle bit right, expe­ri­en­tial­ly. And so, and I haven’t worked togeth­er for as long as we have pri­or to our busi­ness ven­tures togeth­er. We work at a place that real­ly was­n’t an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence cul­tur­al­ly or oth­er­wise. I mean, it was a pret­ty excru­ci­at­ing­ly bad work envi­ron­ment and work expe­ri­ence, I would say. And so I can under­stand the appeal of, yeah, I did not nec­es­sar­i­ly look for­ward to, right, work when I was in that set­ting. And there’s maybe a vari­ety of rea­sons, ways I could have reframed that. But when I was liv­ing in it in the moment, I can appre­ci­ate the sen­ti­ment of peo­ple that say, ​“Hey, I’m just try­ing to get through the day to get to my life because work sucks” and I get it there. There’s some hon­esty to that.

Jor­dan (06:25):

Yeah. Also though, I think we for­get that life can suck. Yeah. <laugh>, right? I mean, it’s

Jason (06:30):

Evi­dence by today.

Jor­dan (06:31):

If you real­ly break it down, I mean, if there are hard rela­tion­ships at work and there are dif­fi­cult dynam­ics at work, what would make you think that in a world full of human beings that at work, every­body and every­thing would be dif­fi­cult and frus­trat­ing. And in the rest of your life, every­one and every­thing would just be sim­ple and easy and smooth like that. That’s not real. We’re going to expe­ri­ence hard­ship at work. We’re going to expe­ri­ence hard­ship at home. We’re going to cel­e­brate at work. We’re going to cel­e­brate at home. And so I think we need to, where I’d love to take the con­ver­sa­tion is just talk­ing about how work is sat­is­fy­ing and when it is sat­is­fy­ing, what makes it sat­is­fy­ing. And I know you’ve got a bunch of notes that you put togeth­er in prepa­ra­tion for this but I’ve got some per­son­al sto­ries I want to tell too. So just tell me when you want me to jump in on that.

Jason (07:21):

Yeah, for sure. Well, and I think one of the things too that’s worth call­ing out here is this sense that all the good things to be had that we can expe­ri­ence don’t take place in work. So I think that’s one of the oth­er things that hap­pens when we make this dichoto­my: work’s bad, life’s good, there­fore, joy, hap­pi­ness, ful­fill­ment, all of those kinds of things live over here in life and inside of work. It’s real­ly just a means to an end. It’s become some­thing entire­ly trans­ac­tion­al and it’s wages for time and effort. And that’s lit­er­al­ly it. And the wages are what afford us the abil­i­ty to expe­ri­ence and enjoy all these oth­er things. And it just feels like a real­ly shal­low way to approach life. And we spend so much time at work because it’s nec­es­sary and prac­ti­cal for a whole vari­ety of rea­sons. But more so than that, I think what we want to sug­gest and con­vince peo­ple of is that there’s all of those things, joy, hap­pi­ness, ful­fill­ment, pur­pose to be found in the work itself if it’s designed with inten­tion and set up properly.

Jor­dan (08:24):

Yeah, absolute­ly. I think when I look back over the last, I don’t want to go too far back, but even just two years, some of the very most fun moments, the most mean­ing­ful moments, the most com­pelling moments, the moments that changed me — they hap­pened in very close cor­re­la­tion with work, or they hap­pened in a phys­i­cal place like this one, the Fringe club­house in Rich­mond, Vir­ginia, that I asso­ciate with work in some way stand­ing about 12 feet that direc­tion, address­ing our com­pa­ny at our first Fringe Fest. I don’t know that I’ve ever had, I should­n’t say this cause I have five chil­dren, but it was a top six moment. And I also got mar­ried, sev­en moment of my life, not because I was stand­ing there, I had the micro­phone nec­es­sar­i­ly, but just look­ing around and look­ing at the faces of the peo­ple that had giv­en over trust to come and work with or advise or invest in or what­ev­er. This com­pa­ny that we start­ed based off of an idea that we once put on a sticky note and stuck to a wall.

Jason (09:43):

What did you feel in that moment?

Jor­dan (09:45):

Oh man, a lot of things. I think a deep, deep sat­is­fac­tion that some­thing that I did­n’t believe that was for some­one like me, became some­thing that I got to expe­ri­ence that I did­n’t ever believe I had. The pedi­gree, the intel­li­gence, the con­nec­tions, what­ev­er it is that you need to do that.

Jason (10:12):

Yeah. Yeah. We’ve talked about that. Yeah. Just how peo­ple you’ve come across from your life in high school, and they say things like, ​“wait, Jor­dan is what?”

Jor­dan (10:24): Jor­dan Peace. Jor­dan Peace?

Jason (10:25):

Are we talk­ing about the same guy?

Jor­dan (10:27):

Exact­ly. Yeah. Does he have a cousin? Are you sure? Yeah yeah. Absolute­ly. Yeah. Man, I think I felt that I also just felt insane­ly con­nect­ed to the peo­ple in the room because I knew so many oth­ers. It was­n’t just me. So many oth­ers had put their blood, sweat and tears into get­ting to that moment as well, and think­ing about who was going to ben­e­fit from that down the road and all the peo­ple that owned por­tions of the com­pa­ny and what it would mean for their lives and the future. And it felt all kinds of things. And all of that was because of work. A whole lot of work.

Jason (11:03):

Yeah. It took a lot when it was just the five of us and grind­ing away doing everything.

Jor­dan (11:09):

And it’s still a whole lot of work, but it’s hard. Yeah, it’s hard. It’s stress­ful, but it’s also incred­i­bly sat­is­fy­ing. And that is more than I can say about most of my week-long beach trips that I’ve tak­en in the last four years, much more than I can say. Yeah, leisure’s great. Sit on the beach, read a book.

Jason (11:33):

More deeply sat­is­fy­ing more for

Jor­dan (11:35):

For three hours. Okay. Yeah.

Jason (11:38):

I mean, I can’t imag­ine sit­ting on the beach for three hours with a book at the stage that we’re at.

Jor­dan (11:44):

Well yeah, I say sit­ting, I mean chas­ing chil­dren, but hypo­thet­i­cal­ly, I’m there on the beach. But I don’t know. I don’t know. That, to me, I just think we just for­get to reflect and rem­i­nisce on what’s actu­al­ly hap­pen­ing in our lives, and what are the moments that are actu­al­ly real­ly impact­ing us, and where are we laugh­ing? Where are we shed­ding tears? Where are we real­ly feel­ing? And I’d argue that many of us expe­ri­ence just as much with our cowork­ers and in a work set­ting of that mean­ing and that growth that we do any­where in life. And I don’t think we need to, these two things don’t need to com­pete with one anoth­er. All we have is life, right? It’s just life. And work hope­ful­ly could be a real­ly, real­ly sat­is­fy­ing part of life.

Jason (12:35):

Yeah. Yeah. I remem­ber in that moment for myself when we had every­one here for Fringe Fest think­ing, I can’t believe that this just ran­dom idea that we had is actu­al­ly com­ing to life the way that it was, because I mean you know me and how ide­al­is­tic I can be about things and my visions prob­a­bly far out­pace my actu­al capa­bil­i­ties. And so the fact that we were stand­ing there,

Jor­dan (13:07):

I did­n’t know you were going to say capa­bil­i­ty when I decid­ed to agree with you, that was not an insult.

Jason (13:11):

Well, I think it’s true though. I mean, the fact that we had, I don’t know, at that time it was 50 some peo­ple that were part of this jour­ney and this mis­sion, and I think very much felt like they were expe­ri­enc­ing some­thing inside of the com­pa­ny that we cre­at­ed. And it just felt kind of wild. But I think it speaks to some­thing I think is impor­tant in this whole con­cept of how do you man­age work and life, and what does that look like is what are you aim­ing for? What are your goals in all that? Because it would’ve been one thing if our goal set­ting out with Fringe was like, ​“Hey, we’re just here to make a crap ton of mon­ey and build a cool tech prod­uct.” And that was it. I think giv­en the fact that nei­ther of us had ever had a lot of mon­ey or built a tech prod­uct, all we real­ly had was like, well, hey, it’d be real­ly cool to build some­thing awe­some for these peo­ple and for our fam­i­lies, of course, as well. But those weren’t sep­a­rate goals, I would­n’t say. I think they were real­ly kind of inex­tri­ca­bly linked to one another.

Jor­dan (14:21):

Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

Jason (14:23):

So I think it’d be inter­est­ing to take a lit­tle bit of a look at some of the his­tor­i­cal con­text here because I think that’s real­ly use­ful as it relates to just how did we arrive where we’re at today, and maybe some of the dif­fer­ences and how over the course of most of human his­to­ry, work has been expe­ri­enced and viewed by humans. And real­ly the par­a­digm we’re liv­ing in is extreme­ly recent in that con­text. And so I’ll give kind of a quick fly­over, and then I know there’s some top­ics there that we want to delve into a lit­tle bit fur­ther. This may be obvi­ous to some, but real­ly sort of human work orig­i­nat­ed in agrar­i­an soci­eties where work was pri­mar­i­ly focused on agri­cul­ture, ani­mal hus­bandry. I could­n’t help but think of Age of Empires when I was putting down some of my notes. How you start out in the game and nerd alert, but it was cul­ti­vat­ing crops, rais­ing live­stock. It was very in touch with the land. You were pro­duc­ing the food that you were going to eat to lit­er­al­ly sur­vive and pro­vide for your fam­i­ly. That work was often com­mu­nal in nature. And so it was­n’t just you off on your own, it was often with oth­ers in the com­mu­ni­ty or fam­i­ly around you work­ing togeth­er to accom­plish these things.

Jor­dan (15:46):

And­he work that you accom­plished. I think it was so clear how that worked impact­ed the entire com­mu­ni­ty, right? If you did­n’t do your job, then peo­ple did­n’t eat. That’s right. And if they did­n’t do their job, then your crops weren’t pro­tect­ed from the wild ani­mals that want­ed to eat them and et cetera, et cetera.

Jason (16:04):

Yeah. So I think that’s an impor­tant idea as we start to come clos­er to the future in this. So kind of fol­low­ing that, we had the rise of trad­ing net­works, mar­ket­places. Peo­ple began to spe­cial­ize in trades. So there was kind of a shift towards com­merce and trade. So agri­cul­ture was still very much a part of what that human work looked like, but there was more of the exchange of goods and ser­vices like, Hey, you have some­thing, it’s more effi­cient. If I pro­duce this thing that I’m real­ly good at pro­duc­ing, we can trade. And in that trade, we’re gain­ing some effi­cien­cy in our endeav­ors as humans. And so work start­ed to become a lit­tle bit more cen­tered around these mar­ket­places and trad­ing hubs. So it actu­al­ly, I’d say in some ways, brought the com­mu­ni­ty even clos­er togeth­er because that inter­con­nect­ed­ness and reliance upon the spe­cial­iza­tions and trades and crafts­men and what­not became real­ly important.


And then we start­ed get­ting into a lit­tle bit more of the mod­ern era that I think peo­ple are going to be more famil­iar with. So the indus­tri­al rev­o­lu­tion, obvi­ous­ly, was a huge shift in the way that peo­ple worked. The rise of fac­to­ries, mass pro­duc­tion, peo­ple work­ing in these fac­to­ries, things becom­ing more mech­a­nized and so forth. Kind of the rep­e­ti­tion of tasks. I mean, in some ways, that was sort of where work start­ed to become a lit­tle bit more removed and dis­con­nect­ed from, say, the land, from com­mu­ni­ty, from rela­tion­ships. I think that’s where the phrase being a cog in the wheel came from.

Jor­dan (17:35):

That’s where the trans­ac­tion­al­ism started.

Jason (17:39):

Right. And then the real­ly quick evo­lu­tion has been the ser­vice indus­try, right? So in the 20th cen­tu­ry, this is real­ly in the six­ties and sev­en­ties, pri­mar­i­ly work shifts towards the ser­vice sec­tors. So indus­tries like health­care, edu­ca­tion, hos­pi­tal­i­ty, et cetera. Things that weren’t actu­al­ly pro­duc­ing goods, but we’re pro­vid­ing ser­vices for peo­ple. And then the most recent shift, obvi­ous­ly has been tech­nol­o­gy. So work’s more and more dig­i­tized, decen­tral­ized jobs are done remote­ly, work’s reliant on that tech­nol­o­gy and automa­tion, gig econ­o­my, free­lance work, all these things have become much, much more preva­lent. And so one of the things as I was mak­ing some of these notes, and I know you have some thoughts on this too, is over the course of that his­to­ry, I could­n’t help but notice how dis­con­nect­ed the work has become from the actu­al human impact that it has at the end of the day. And you kind of allud­ed to that at the begin­ning, dear com­ments around the food that we pro­duce and where it’s going and some of that kind of stuff.

Jor­dan (18:52):

I think our work, when I say our, I mean as a species, our work pro­duced sev­er­al things that were real­ly obvi­ous back in the day. One is that we felt our work. It was very, very phys­i­cal. There was a lim­it to the amount of work that could be done sim­ply because your body could only han­dle, but so much strain. And then we rest­ed, and then we worked, and then we rest­ed. And that was the nat­ur­al order of how things worked, because it had to work that way because our bod­ies had lim­i­ta­tions. We’re also lim­it­ed by nature, by weath­er, by light, by when we could see to do the work. And speak­ing of see­ing, I think there are two dif­fer­ent ways that we could see our works. We felt our work. We also could see our work. One is that we could see our work in the phys­i­cal envi­ron­ment around us.


So at the end of the day, the crop that was not har­vest­ed was now har­vest­ed. The wall that was not built was now built or par­tial­ly built. The field that was not plowed is now plowed. I could see that which was undone is now done. And I have, I’ve earned this rest and I also need this rest. And I can see, but I also can see real­ly tan­gi­bly the impact on the peo­ple around me, right? I can see that I pro­duced X and that per­son need­ed X, and they got that thing, and now their fam­i­ly is fed or safer or what­ev­er. I pro­tect­ed the flock of their sheep because I’m a shep­herd and that’s my job. And no sheep died today, and there­fore that fam­i­ly is bet­ter off. What­ev­er the case may be. Many of those things we’ve lost.

Jason (20:41):

There’s some­thing real­ly instinc­tu­al about that. I think reci­procity and human nature that I think is sort of intrin­sic and you know, you real­ly lose that when you start get­ting away from the real­ly kind of earthy rela­tion­ships with both the land, the way work was per­formed at that time, but also the com­mu­ni­ty that just lit­er­al­ly lived next door. Work was for the peo­ple imme­di­ate­ly around you that you saw all the time.

Jor­dan (21:11):

Yeah, absolute­ly. And I think we talked about this in the pre­vi­ous episodes. I don’t want to harp on it, but I think one of the things that took place in the mod­ern era when things did get more trans­ac­tion­al, and I think peo­ple start­ed to feel as though they were that cog in the wheel. And it was very much like, I’m going to trade my time for mon­ey and I’m going to get home. And that’s it. And then the com­mu­ni­ty was at home, right? Now, whether that was a social group or a place of wor­ship, or just the neigh­bors right around you and the com­mu­ni­ty that you cre­at­ed right there, geo­graph­i­cal­ly, wher­ev­er it was. That was com­mu­ni­ty and work was work. And then through the tech­no­log­i­cal are­na. And then I think the decline of many of the more social and reli­gious aspects of life. Peo­ple are more iso­lat­ed in their home life. There’s not so much of a sit out on the front porch and wave at the neigh­bors and know every­body that’s right there phys­i­cal­ly around this. That still hap­pens, but it’s not so much the focus as what’s going on on this screen, right? And so I think what’s hap­pened, peo­ple still are com­mu­nal. They still need com­mu­ni­ty, but now they’re seek­ing com­mu­ni­ty at work.

Jor­dan (22:27):

They’re seek­ing com­mu­ni­ty with their cowork­ers so much more. I mean, almost every­body I talk to that’s our age. We’re 37, by the way, and down when I ask: Who are your friends? They’re like, It’s who I work with? And there might be one or two left­overs from col­lege and that, that’s pret­ty much it. And then when you switch jobs, some of those stay and some of them don’t. And they pick up anoth­er group of friends. The next job, it’s very much around the work. And so work and com­mu­ni­ty have come back togeth­er. And it took a long, long time for that to hap­pen. But it’s actu­al­ly an excit­ing thing. I think that work and com­mu­ni­ty are more tied again.

Jason (23:07):

Yeah. Or there’s at least the poten­tial for it to be more tied. Cause I think, as we talked about, and I think it was the last episode with the native analog/​native dig­i­tal thing, one of the things I think we just maybe haven’t quite fig­ured out as a species is: how do you do com­mu­ni­ty well in this kind of dig­i­tal vir­tu­al world? And I think it’s some­thing that we’re sort of exper­i­ment­ing with as we go here as a species and fig­ur­ing those things out.

Jor­dan (23:36):

Yeah, absolute­ly. Yeah. And speak­ing of that, I think the con­nect­ed­ness, and we talk about con­nect­ed to peo­ple, but I think just the plugged in-ness of life that we just have the infor­ma­tion stream con­stant­ly. And I was think­ing about that. I was think­ing gen­er­al­ly gen­er­a­tional­ly, and what did I expe­ri­ence as a child? And this’ll sound a bit anachro­nis­tic in 2023, but as a child, I remem­ber my mom and dad, my mom actu­al­ly got home from work before me, so more so focused on my dad here, get­ting home from work. And I could tell that he car­ried his work with him in his mind, at least for the first 30 min­utes, hours, two hours. I could tell it was rumi­nat­ing, espe­cial­ly when I was old­er and more obser­vant than just run­ning and grab­bing his leg and demand­ing his atten­tion when I start­ed pay­ing atten­tion. But he did­n’t bring work in the door.


There was no com­put­er, well just there, just lit­er­al­ly wasn’t. There was no notes. There was no noth­ing. Right? He man­aged a fac­to­ry. There was­n’t any­thing for him to do. And so when he was at home, he was at home. Unless there was some emer­gency call of come back to the work, he was just there and, and it was forcible. We talked about the weath­er dic­tat­ing that. And we talked about light dic­tat­ing when we could work. Geog­ra­phy dic­tat­ed that he could not work because he was­n’t at the work, right? Not him. And it’s noth­ing against my dad, but it was­n’t his dis­ci­pline. It was­n’t his good deci­sion mak­ing. It was the envi­ron­ment that caused the work to be put away and the fam­i­ly to become the focus. It was just geog­ra­phy. But now we have an oppor­tu­ni­ty no mat­ter where we are, and we always say, wow, we real­ly need to unplug from work. We need to dis­con­nect from work, but we don’t dis­con­nect from home. I don’t come in when­ev­er I do come into the office, it’s not all the time, but I don’t turn tex­ting off. I don’t turn the noti­fi­ca­tions off from the MLB app or what­ev­er news apps that I get things from. So my life is stream­ing at me while I’m work­ing. And while I’m sup­pos­ed­ly doing life, which is a sep­a­rate thing, appar­ent­ly, work is stream­ing at me, right? So there there’s no -

Jason (26:03):

Which is a huge dif­fer­ence. Cause I’m think­ing about dad, when he was at work, if your mom was call­ing him, it was a big emergency.

Jor­dan (26:11):

Oh, some­body bet­ter be dead. You don’t inter­rupt the work day for just the idle chitchat. There was­n’t texting.

Jason (26:20):

What are you eat­ing for lunch?

Jor­dan (26:22):

There was no plans being made for that evening or what­ev­er. You fig­ured it out once you were phys­i­cal­ly togeth­er. So I just think we need to under­stand that for the first time in human his­to­ry, we have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to find out any infor­ma­tion we want any­time, no mat­ter if we’re at home or at an office or at a cof­fee shop, or wher­ev­er the heck we work. When I’m in my clos­et and my bed­room work­ing, most of the time, I can find out any­thing that’s going on with my peo­ple, my fam­i­ly, my com­mu­ni­ty, what­ev­er you want to define in my tribe. And I can find out any­thing that’s going on with work. I can find out any­thing that’s going on in the world. And so real­ly, it just comes down to a dis­ci­pline of under­stand­ing how many things should I let — how many things should I let enter my brain in one giv­en day? Yeah. How much can I take? So it’s not so much about the phys­i­cal toil any­more, of just like, well, I work until I’ve fall down and then I stop. But we don’t fall down because of our work. Most of us any­more. We don’t hard­ly use our bod­ies at all. But we do fall down men­tal­ly. There is a stress, there is an anx­i­ety that is sin­is­ter, right? It’s sneaky, right? We’re just like, well, I don’t know. I real­ly haven’t done all that much today, but, but you did read 200,000 words between the text, point­less emails, slacks, and the -

Jason (27:53):

That real­ly stressed you out.

Jor­dan (27:54):

But it does because it’s just stuff.

Jor­dan (28:00):

That’s why I go back to this work-life bal­ance idea. The heart behind pro­tect­ing our­selves in some way is good, but it’s not pro­tect from work because work is all bad. We need to pro­tect from something.

Jason (28:14):

And I think you’re get­ting at, when I’ve pushed back at some peo­ple on LinkedIn in these con­ver­sa­tions, I don’t think it’s work. I think it’s the con­tent of the work or what’s going on dur­ing the work. And so I think there’s prob­a­bly two streams that come to mind for me. And one is very much what you were just describ­ing, which is the things tak­ing place, whether it’s in our work­day or whether it’s in our life day with our fam­i­ly and stuff, are cre­at­ing that stress and anx­i­ety. So there’s maybe two themes there, kind of stress and anx­i­ety, kind of what we’re expe­ri­enc­ing as a result of what’s com­ing at us all the time. And then this notion of con­nect­ed­ness and dis­con­nect­ed­ness and sort of con­nect­ed­ness, which I think we prob­a­bly often take as a pos­i­tive thing. But in this case, I think what you’re imply­ing is that we’re too con­nect­ed all the time to every­thing hap­pen­ing at every moment. And it’s just sim­ply overwhelming.

Jor­dan (29:12):

Com­plete­ly. Yeah. I mean, you used to think about work is eight hours and life is eight hours and sleep is eight hours. And that was sort of how you broke up your day. And so we used to say things like, well, if you’re going to spend one third of your life doing some­thing, you bet­ter love it. Right? But it’s not so much that any­more. We still hope­ful­ly spend about a third of our lives sleep­ing. So we still have this oth­er 66%. How much of that 66 are we con­nect­ed to the entire world with the com­put­er that’s in our pock­et? Yeah. How much? 65 out of 66.

Jason (29:47):


Jor­dan (29:47):

Do you even ever not take your phone to the bathroom?

Jason (29:51):


Jor­dan (29:52):

I don’t. I take it to the bath­room. Every time.

Jason (29:55):

Yeah. Oh yeah.

Jor­dan (29:55):

Yeah. I mean, in the show­er. The show­er might be the only time. And I’ve even bro­ken that rule. Cause I’ve had to be on a phone call, <laugh>, ignore the sound of run­ning water. It’s my kids.

Jason (30:07):

Real­ly want to know what phone call that was.

Jor­dan (30:08):

Every­body believes, every­body believes you when you just blame kids. It’s usu­al­ly true. But that might be my 1%. Yeah. Where it’s not going to ding. It may not even be in the room. That might be, and that’s my own prob­lem. I could do bet­ter than that prob­a­bly, but I don’t think I’m abnor­mal on that front.

Jason (30:29):

I guess the ques­tion is, what do you do with that 66% right of your time? Yeah. I mean, some amount of it’s going to be per­form­ing work out of neces­si­ty because we do need to earn mon­ey to live and basic neces­si­ties. But it’s an inter­est­ing ques­tion because I think it’s not about hours. And I think that’s some­thing I always grate at, when I see peo­ple com­ment or make state­ments, it’s like, ah, it’s just what­ev­er. If I get my work done in four hours or eight hours, I’m, the whole par­a­digm just does­n’t even seem right to begin with. It’s like, who cares? We should be aim­ing at just ful­fill­ment in that 66%.

Jor­dan (31:15):

Being suc­cess­ful in the work, find­ing sat­is­fac­tion in the work, right? Doing what you promised that you would do, either with your cowork­ers or your employ­er, being a per­son of integri­ty. And yeah, you ful­fill­ing the role.

Jason (31:28):

And that’s not unique to work. And so I think that’s even where not all, we prob­a­bly say that’s where we’re try­ing to tear down this wall between the work and the life is like, well, the val­ues that you hold the high­est, I think should fill all of the time that you’re not sleep­ing. And so it’s not a mat­ter of whether I’m at work or at home. It’s like, well, the things I’m aim­ing for I think are the same, right? If I desire flour­ish­ing or pur­pose or mean­ing for myself or my fam­i­ly or what­ev­er, some of that’s going to be in work. Some of that’s going to be at home. But they’re not sep­a­rate in some fun­da­men­tal kind of way.

Jor­dan (32:06):

No, I don’t think they are at all. And I was­n’t try­ing to be the old guy attack­ing the phone in the pock­et and that that’s the ene­my. That’s not the ene­my. It’s not the hard­ware. Right? It’s our inabil­i­ty to process what you are say­ing, which is, what is most impor­tant to me? What goals do I have in life? What am I aim­ing at? I don’t know, because I’m busy read­ing my 45th arti­cle this morn­ing, I don’t know what I’m aim­ing at. I don’t think!

Jason (32:38):

I don’t have time to stop and think. Right? So I want to get it, so you talked about stress and anx­i­ety, and I think those are things that are maybe easy scape­goats because we all feel ​‘em, we, and some­times it’s over­whelm­ing. And you, and have both been there per­son­al­ly in those moments where it’s felt so over­whelm­ing that you know, you lit­er­al­ly can’t work, can’t do any­thing. But I think there’s some­thing more to it. What is it that maybe goes beyond just stress and anx­i­ety? Cause I think that’s too super­fi­cial, maybe.

Jor­dan (33:20):

Yeah. I don’t want to sum­ma­rize it with the word pur­pose­less­ness, that it sounds too hope­less, but it’s not that our lives are with­out pur­pose. It’s that we’re often unaware of the pur­pose, and we’re often for­get­ting to align what we’re think­ing and how we’re spend­ing our time and what we’re doing and with the pur­pose. And so we’re just real­ly anx­ious because we feel like we’re just being pulled around, just being blown about by the wind, as opposed to actu­al­ly steer­ing at all into any sort of direc­tion. That is real­ly anx­i­ety-induc­ing feel­ing. Just like I’m watch­ing the days and the years tick by it. I don’t even know what I’m doing here. And then the oth­er thing I think is fear. Yeah. I think we’re ter­ri­fied. One, the pace of change in the world is faster than it’s ever been, ever. And it’s get­ting faster. So what­ev­er I learned today is use­less in five years <laugh>, like that’s scary to ever feel accom­plished enough, smart enough, good enough, capa­ble enough when you’ve just got to con­stant­ly, to use a very mil­len­ni­al word, rein­vent your­self, <affir­ma­tive> all the time to keep up. And I think also, if we don’t spend a whole lot of time cre­at­ing com­mu­ni­ty and inti­mate com­mu­ni­ty and hav­ing real rela­tion­ships and real con­ver­sa­tions, and we don’t have a lot of peo­ple in our lives that real­ly affirm us, that real­ly tell us, actu­al­ly, you are good enough and help us under­stand our place in the world.

Jason (34:56):

Yeah. What’s real­ly inter­est­ing about that too, I’m just think­ing about it in my own life, is hav­ing that com­mu­ni­ty helps you artic­u­late your val­ues. And if you don’t artic­u­late those val­ues, then you expe­ri­ence that anx­i­ety, right? And there’s actu­al­ly, it’s a psy­cho­log­i­cal prin­ci­ple that when we don’t have clear­ly artic­u­lat­ed val­ue hier­ar­chies that we ori­ent our­selves around, that lit­er­al­ly the bio­log­i­cal result of that is anx­i­ety, right? Because we’re not ori­ent­ed around -

Jor­dan (35:25):

It’s a recipe for men­tal chaos.

Jason (35:27):

Because we’re not ori­ent­ing our lives in any kind of way towards any­thing that we hold in high esteem. And so I think there’s two real­ly crit­i­cal things that you just point­ed out there. One’s like, what do we care most about? And are we ori­ent­ing our lives, work or home, wher­ev­er, towards those ulti­mate val­ues that we have? And then what com­mu­ni­ty helps point out and kind of hold us to those things, or explore those things out we find most valuable.

Jor­dan (35:57):

And encour­ages us that we can actu­al­ly pur­sue and be suc­cess­ful in what­ev­er those endeav­ors are.

Jason (36:03):

Yeah. So I think maybe to start wrap­ping this up a lit­tle bit, there’s some prob­a­bly prac­ti­cal take­aways from that. I mean, what would you say for indi­vid­u­als who are lis­ten­ing, and I’m sure there’s peo­ple who feel like, hey, I don’t have the best work expe­ri­ence at this moment. What do I do? How do I think about some of this stuff?

Jor­dan (36:27):

Yeah, I think it would be easy to tell peo­ple to remove things from them, from their lives. I don’t think it’s actu­al­ly very good advice, because nobody’s going to fol­low it. So what I would sug­gest is adding things to your life, which sounds stress­ful, but add 10 min­utes a day where you don’t have a phone and you have a note­book and you have a pen. 10 min­utes. You know? You could do that every day for, I don’t know, 14 straight days. I don’t know what the mag­ic num­ber is. I can’t imag­ine how much more you might know about your­self, about how much more you might know about what you care about, what you kind of believe in, what your world­view is, what you pri­or­i­tize, what you hold in high esteem. I like that expres­sion. We don’t know. Cause we don’t think, and we don’t think because there’s always some­thing going in.

Jason (37:23):


Jor­dan (37:23):

Noth­ing can ever come out.

Jason (37:25):


Jor­dan (37:26):

Because we don’t ever have the time. So pro­duce some­thing, pro­duce a sen­tence a day of just some­thing that mat­ters to you. The first day is, I love my kids. That’s enough. So I would add that into life. And then I think through a process of doing some­thing like that, then you can begin to reflect on, do I have the right job? Am I in the right career? Am I like, yeah. But I would­n’t think any of those thoughts until you spend some time fig­ur­ing out who you are and why you are.

Jason (38:03):

Cause I think the work, the work can actu­al­ly be infused with pur­pose when you start to explore those ideas of what actu­al­ly mat­ters most to you. And you might find out, well, actu­al­ly I’m doing work that turns out is actu­al­ly fair­ly in line with this. But before I real­ly sat down to think about it, I was just kind of all over the place because I real­ly did­n’t know and I had­n’t artic­u­lat­ed what I want most.

Jor­dan (38:27):

And work is the ene­my because the work just gives me more tasks to do, and my life already feels full. And so I just need to get away from it so that I can relax, even though I don’t know how to relax.

Jason (38:38):

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. No, that’s great. I mean, I think the one oth­er thing I’d prob­a­bly add, and this would be more for peo­ple who lead peo­ple or peo­ple who are build­ing com­pa­nies and so forth. There’s some­thing that I always said to my team as I was work­ing with them is to the extent that you can help peo­ple that you work with or man­age align the actu­al con­tent of their work to the things that they’re excit­ed about, that they love doing, that match­es their strengths and abil­i­ties and so forth. And it’s nev­er going to be a hun­dred per­cent per­fect, but a job descrip­tion is real­ly just some­thing that’s nec­es­sary for legal pur­pos­es, but it real­ly does­n’t match what most peo­ple end up doing in their day-to-day. And so I think the word I’d prob­a­bly use is inten­tion or inten­tion­al­i­ty. So for peo­ple who are man­agers and lead­ers of peo­ple is kind of using that inten­tion­al­i­ty to help design work for the peo­ple that they lead on their teams and try and align those things more closely.

Jor­dan (39:41):

All right. Lay it on me. We got to wrap it up. I need a word for next episode, I don’t know if you noticed, but I nailed it on this one.

Jason (39:48):

Yeah, I was ready this time too. So the word of the day for our next episode will be tantamount.

Jor­dan (39:57):

Wow. You just keep upping your game and I appre­ci­ate it.

Jason (40:00):

AI know you love the word games, so we’re going to make this fun.

Jor­dan (40:05):

Oh, all right. Well, thank you. Thanks Jason, and for the riv­et­ing con­ver­sa­tion. And also thank you to our lis­ten­ers for tun­ing into episode four on Work Life Bal­ance. We’ll see you next time.

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