Deciphering Culture

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Short Takes: Maintaining work / life balance

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Orhan Pamuk, turkish novelist. The photo is de...

Orhan Pamuk (Image via Wikipedia)

Keeping focus when working at home

I am currently spending a lot of time at my desk at home working on a writing project and finding it difficult to maintain a separation between personal and professional time — there always seems like there’s time to do another load of laundry, the dog is asking for a walk and….

Work / life balance is always difficult to maintain but with our identities increasingly defined virtually, even maintaining physical demarcations between our professional and private lives can become problematic. Needed down time and self care often fly out the window, often accompanied by decreased productivity. Lately, I have found that one effective response is to ritualize the separation between my professional and personal spaces, even going so far as leaving home in the morning to walk to work (ending up back where I started) — an idea I appropriated from novelist Orhan Pamuk.

Orhan Pamuk: I have always thought that the place where you sleep or the place you share with your partner should be separate from the place where you write. The domestic rituals and details somehow kill the imagination. They kill the demon in me. The domestic, tame daily routine makes the longing for the other world, which the imagination needs to operate, fade away. So for years I always had an office or a little place outside the house to work in. I always had different flats. But once I spent half a semester in the U.S. while my ex-wife was taking her Ph.D. at Columbia University. We were living in an apartment for married students and didn’t have any space, so I had to sleep and write in the same place. Reminders of family life were all around. This upset me. In the mornings I used to say goodbye to my wife like someone going to work. I’d leave the house, walk around a few blocks, and come back like a person arriving at the office. (from an interview in: The Paris Review, Fall/Winter 2005)


Written by Jeffrey Callen

June 5, 2011 at 11:32 am

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