– Summary: Blending personal and professional time knocks us off our game. We should decide what amount of work/play blending is acceptable, and when it can and cannot occur, before peak-achievement level slips away. Focused, goal directed time is essential for on-game living.
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A compelling argument can be made that there used to be greater distance and clarity between private and professional life. Work was work, resolute and productive. Home was home, easygoing and often rejuvenating. When we left our offices, we were generally prepared to be social and to engage with others. We knew how to properly interact in each situation. We knew what to expect from others and how to conduct ourselves to maximize the experience, because our days had natural divisions. For most of us, our “night time” was our social time. Day was work time.

Now, we have blended days. According to the World Economic Forum, flexible work times and virtual teams are “one of the biggest drivers of transformation” in the workplace. But blended time makes it difficult to maximize each experience. After all, we can’t let our guards down or go to a rock concert when we may have to take a work call and respond to urgent email.

We also can’t commit to picking up dinner by six p.m. when meetings regularly run late. This personal/professional time blending is a natural product of the democratization of work, including telecommuting, the gig economy, and increased entrepreneurship, all very good things. Yet these trends challenge on-game performance. It’s hard to be fully present in either personal or professional mode when we’re switching back and forth.

They can also make it harder to keep commitments, because unclear work/play divisions put us in a constant state of hedging. Here’s a recent text I saw: “Yes I’ll join you for dinner, but I may need to take a work call . . . not sure exactly when. Sorry in advance if you end up waiting for me or the food gets cold.” Is this setting up for peak performance? I think not.

How many of us have gone on a family trip when we needed to work a good deal of the time? Where does this leave us? With cold food. Are we rejuvenated? Are we on top of things at the office? No.

The reality is that we live in a work-driven culture. Our society honors work above almost all else. And we will do it here, there, and everywhere. This includes work toward both personal and professional goals. The drive to work on passion-fulfilling or passion-aligned activities is an on-game behavior, be it part of formal employment, a hobby, or anything in between. Spending disproportionate time working only becomes an off-game activity if we’re unfulfilled from insufficient investment in personal interests, or lower and midlevel pyramid activities. Over the short term, this is palatable. It is in the longer-term that the Profession Versus Passion off-game loop takes hold.

Intermediate symptoms are experienced as feeling lackluster, but it’s typically not compelling enough for us to take action. So, we leave it alone. We sustain low-level discontent by not stopping to decide how to dispense with it. Like a shadow dimming our contentedness, it stays with us . . . slowly strengthening.

This is not to say we should never take a professional call on the go, or do personal things in the middle of a workday. Work will continue to be fused with personal pursuits, often to the detriment of On Game Living. That it happens is old news. That we must step up and thoughtfully manage it is what matters today.

We should decide what an appropriate amount of work/play blending is, and when it can and cannot occur. Then we should act on it before peak-achievement slips away.

Key questions to ask ourselves:

  • When is work/play blending occurring in our daily life?
  • Is it an acceptable amount? Or too much?
  • What specific days and times should we keep sacred, away from blended time and distraction?

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Also see sister posts for the other Off-Game Impacts from Cuture:

1. Thank you for ignoring me. How our culture of separation knocks us off our game.
2. You’re choosing to do that? How common choices to invest our emotions, time, and attention can knock us off our game.

For a more thorough description, go to OnYourGame.Today, or buy the book.

Also see posts about how People and Technology can work to bump us of off our game.

As always, be in touch. We love to hear about your successes!

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