Danah Boyd asks: does work/life balance exist?
I replied in her blog, but I want to reiterate it here, because it's such an important issue.
How do you achieve work-in-one-area / work-in-another-area balance? What if you like to think about social networks but also play the bass in a band? What if you are a programmer who also writes comic strips?
The answer is this: the work-centric peer group has no problem at all with work/work balance or work/play balance. There are plenty of successful models for that.
What we have is a taboo in this society: Childrearing, householding, and community work are all intellectually relevant topics, but unfortunately remedies for barfing 3 year olds is not considered as sexy as how to balance the demands of your band with your work.
The underlying conflict, I believe, has to do with a rigid sense of control. I can control my band schedule, my art and cooking classes, my off-grid-mountaineering-travel schedule. If it's too onerous, I can always just walk out, after all. But I can't control my child suddenly having trouble at school. We have a problem in this society not with work/life balance, but with allowing ambiguity and chaos of life to upset our rigid pursuit of whatever we're after.
When we're in our 20's, we're driven by our own interests and the thrill of our freedom. But as we take on long term responsibility for others, we increase in our skills at mediation, motivation, inspiration... but at the expense of always being able to pursue our own schedule.
That's what this is.
It's not work/life balance. It's how to handle responsibilities beyond ourselves as we age; how to enjoy that this makes us stronger and how to mitigate the risks that it can exhaust us.