Work Life Balance: Don’t Believe the Hype

by Matthew Bookspan May 15, 2007

People will tell you that work-life-balance (WLB) is important. Everyone receives this message (from either their management or HR teams), and as leaders, we deliver that message to our employees under the appearance that we honestly believe it.

Well, I think we as leaders try to believe it.

Four weeks into my new employment and I have regressed into being a 22-year-old single male whose life is focused around work alone. Shutting it off is hard, especially when you move into the upper echelons of an organization. At my level, you are expected to be available, regardless of the fact that you have a family, friends, etc.

Of course, whenever you start at a new place of employment, there is the obvious goal of making a great impression on the team. You want to be the “go-to” guy. Or the one with wisdom and patience. In a perfect world, you want to be all of the above.

In so becoming this perfect (or ideal) person, you tend to forget and/or disregard the other (and more) important aspects of your life. For example, you spend less time with your wife or your children. Or maybe you are physically in the room with them, while mentally you are off in work-land (or la-la-land).

Throughout my career, I have been a strong advocate for WLB, especially for my employees. I would (and still will) send folks home when I know they’ll be more valuable to me the next day/week/month. Burn-out is not an option in my book.

Nevertheless, I do not always follow my own wisdom. It’s like listening to a CFA who spends money the moment that he earns it. Seems ludicrous, although this behavior exists in every walk of life.

To anyone who follows my column, I hope that this article brings a little realization that life is short. Don’t forget the big things. The little things come and go. And thus, you should let them go. Work is important, don’t dismiss that. However, don’t embrace work at the expense of anything else.

Alright, enough pontification….

How does any of this relate to the Macintosh way of life? Well, it doesn’t in particular. It’s more what has been going on in my head lately as I try to figure out the important things in my life. I did ensure that there was no work this weekend, which made me much more available to my family and friends.

I also only spent a little time on my personal Mac, troubleshooting yet another problem with sync services (this time, beta software was the culprit for the redundant calendar entries). I will say this: my Mac is getting a little boring lately. It is becoming more of a tool than something fun.

Maybe this is because I want more interesting software (you’ve all read my previous articles about workflow, personal finance, and more). I love trying out new programs to see how they will improve my level of productivity and/or workflow. Lately, I’ve been giving Google Desktop a run. It’s interesting.

I know we have Spotlight in Tiger. However, the speed of Google Desktop is very nice, and I like its integration with Google services. Lastly, Google Desktop makes a decent application launcher, especially with its custom search operators. I liken Google Desktop to Quicksilver (without all of the power features).

I also happen to like the Google GUI. It’s pretty simple. Spotlight is simple as well. Of course, what I don’t like is redundant functionality with integrated services. It wastes system memory/resources. So, to the Mac Geeks out there, how do I completely disable Spotlight if I want to replace it with Google’s product?

Also, with the rumor mill all abuzz with Leopard’s improvements to Spotlight, will Google Desktop be necessary?

Let me know your thoughts….


  • I’ve found Spotlight so slow and unproductive lately (doesn’t show files I KNOW are there) that I’ve all but abandoned it.  It is just about the worst implementation of a system wide search I could imagine.  Definitely feels like a 1.0 feature.

    Theoretically, it’s supposed to work like the search in iTunes, which I find amazingly useful.  So working toward that implementation would be very nice.

    As for balancing work and life, I feel fortunate to say that I work at home and am in (mostly) constant access to my little 15-month-old daughter and my wife.  That said, as a freelancer I often have to force myself to take “official” time off since I am more or less always working.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on May 15, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • When I installed Google Desktop (a few weeks ago) I was stunned to find it took half a day to index my system.

    I thought that was bad… until I after my repartitioning. Because Spotlight decided to do a total reindex. This was still running a couple of days later!! I went over two days without being able to get any results from Spotlight. It’s funny when you search email for your wife’s name and it turns up nothing. smile

    But I’ve turned Google Desktop off as it’s index updating was hitting my system much harder than Spotlight’s, and more often.

    Spotlight’s biggest advantage is application integration, such as in Mail.

    Chris Howard had this to say on May 15, 2007 Posts: 1209
  • I’ve found Spotlight so slow and unproductive lately (doesn’t show files I KNOW are there) that I’ve all but abandoned it.  It is just about the worst implementation of a system wide search I could imagine.  Definitely feels like a 1.0 feature.

    I recently maxed the RAM on my aging 1.33GHz Powerbook - to 1.25 GBs. Before I did so, I didn’t by habit use spotlight very much. Now however, on this underpowered laptop with 60% full 60 GB 4200 rpm hard drive, it is so fast that I use it for application launching. For instance, I just searched system-wide for “Cheese”. The search completed in less than a second and returned 30 results out of 500 thousand-odd files (not all of which are searchable, obviously). Now I just searched for “animation”, which took between 1 and 2 seconds after i finished typing and returned 513 results. If spotlight is unusably slow on your (from memory) core 2 duo imac, something has gone wrong.

    If spotlight isn’t finding files, then again, there is a problem. Seems you may need to reindex. If that doesn’t work then god knows what’s gone wrong, but this is highly atypical.

    Spotlight gives more flexibility and speed from the finder search box than from the menu bar.

    That is not say I don’t agree that the UI for spotlight, especially from the menu bar, needs drastic improvement. As Wil Shipley said, “That wasn’t designed, that just… happened.” Let’s not post flamebait though eh fella.

    Benji had this to say on May 15, 2007 Posts: 927
  • Try this:

    It’s called ‘disabletigerfeatures’ and promises to turn off Spotlight at the push of a button. Allows you to turn it back on as well. This might be better than a lot of the ‘terminal’ solutions floating around out there.

    Kageysea had this to say on May 15, 2007 Posts: 9
  • One more thing to bear in mind is that Spotlight works best if you use it often. For instance, the first time I use it after logging in, it is much slower than thereafter. Same thing after a long period of not using it. Something or other seems to drop out of memory.

    Matthew, you’re not going to do your system any good by disabling Spotlight, and I take no responsibility, but what the heck:—-Utilities/DisableTigerFeatures.shtml

    The Tiger feature I only have a very passing use for is Dashboard. Not that I don’t use it, but taking limited functionality miniapps and putting them in their own little world has had only a small number of uses for me so far. Case in point: the google search widget. How much easier is it to switch to dashboard, find the google widget (perhaps launch it), enter a search term and press enter than it is to click safari, click the search box and press enter? Not at all is how much easier.

    Generally I find that widgets don’t’ interact enough with the rest of the system. The ones that actually do something useful seem to require too much clicking. They’ve brought craplets to the Mac, and they suffer from the same curse as Windows crapware: there’s so much of it it makes finding the good stuff a chore.

    Also, they eat memory.

    Benji had this to say on May 15, 2007 Posts: 927
  • I’ve found that Spotlight doesn’t index many system/application component files, intentionally I believe, and this forces me to use TinkerTool.  I wish Apple would allow Spotlight to Index everything on the Mac, and simply provide a Preferences Folder with checkboxes for turning on/off the kinds of files.  This would permit system/application component files to be unselected by default, but permit me to turn them on when I need to perform a search to find something.

    Dave Marsh had this to say on May 15, 2007 Posts: 44
  • Spotlight it useless to me as a search tool. I’ve long ago lost count of the number of times it’s failed to locate a file for me. I’ve tried every suggestion I’ve ever seen online to no avail. I’ve even spoken to software developers who write plug-ins for Spotlight, but nothing helps. Using a decent freeware tool finds the same files instantly.

    Unfortunately I’ve started to notice the same thing in Mail too. Last week I was looking for a message from IT with the subject “Re: Parallels license”. I didn’t know the exact subject line when I did the search but knew it contained “Parallels” so that’s what I searched for. I got a lot of results, but none of them were the message I was looking for so I tried searching for “license”. Same problem. Eventually I sorted my Inbox by From and looked through every email I’d received this year from IT. Talk about a serious waste of my time.

    Bregalad had this to say on May 15, 2007 Posts: 14
  • Bregalad, that sounds like my experience as well.  I’ve been doing a lot of rendering and sometimes I’ll forget to set the path.  I’ve tried using spotlight to locate the files but to either no avail or very intermittent results to the point of uselessness.

    Ben, I agree it’s broken, but let me just tell you how interested I am in spending my time tracking down and fixing a search feature that’s supposed to “just work.”

    As for Dashboard, I finally found a widget that I use other than the calculator!  It’s called Dashrender ($20) and it’s a widget GUI for Mayabatch.  It’s AWESOME.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on May 15, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • Ah, unfortunately I’m not going to have much use for that one.

    Personally I occasionally use the weather widget, countdown calendar, bbc listen again, stickies, stocks, and translation. Actually, maybe I was a bit harsh. Perhaps it’s the idiotic way you select, launch and close them that’s really chafing.

    Bregalad, try rebuilding your mailboxes.

    Benji had this to say on May 15, 2007 Posts: 927
  • I will say this: my Mac is getting a little boring lately. It is becoming more of a tool than something fun.

    Lol. The Anti-Climax Phase. It happens to sooner or later everyone who switches to a Mac. They eventually realize it is just a computer.

    But don’t fret. The next phase is the best one. It’s the warm fuzzy feeling when you realise what you left behind. It happens when you hear normal folks talking about how they try to deal with all the v.i.s.t.a. that affects their computers.

    (viruses, infections, spyware, trojans, adware)

    Chris Howard had this to say on May 15, 2007 Posts: 1209
  • Thanks for very interesting article. btw. I really enjoyed reading all of your posts. It’s interesting to read ideas, and observations from someone else’s point of view… makes you think more. So please keep up the great work. Greetings

    pozycjonowanie had this to say on May 16, 2007 Posts: 5
  • Add DRM to the list, Chris.

    Benji had this to say on May 16, 2007 Posts: 927
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