In search of the ultimate work-life balance

Tesco delivery van
Turns out there’s more to work-life balance than getting your shopping delivered

When we first heard about “MonkChat” we naturally assumed it was a hip new Valley-based startup aimed at disrupting the IMing space. Nope, turns out it’s actually chatting to some monks. So of course, we’re going to do it this coming week.

We’re also going to visit a temple, walk around the market every day to find our meals, and have coffee with some of the cool people we’ve been meeting.

It’s not like we couldn’t have done these things (minus the monks) in London: London has markets, and tourist attractions, and we have friends there. Yet because it’s our home town and we take it all for granted, for our four months there we slipped into our default mode of just working all hours. We didn’t see our friends as much as we’d have liked, we evangelised about the efficiency of our weekly Sainsbury’s deliveries, and we didn’t make an effort to go see anything new.

And y’know what? Those were the most totally uninspired months we’ve had in ages – and as a result, our productivity slipped. So now we’re searching for a bit more work-life balance.

Yep, we’ve been in Thailand all of eight days and we’re already going all pseudo-Buddhist on you. But not just because we’re delirious after too many massages: we’ve found that easing off the “work” in favour of the “life” means that the time we do spend working sees the ideas flowing more readily than they did – which is good for us and for our clients. Instead of working all bloody day at low intensity, we’re using ideas like the pomodoro technique to fit just as much productive work into a shorter time.

Of course, it’s easier to focus on life, not work, when there’s so much novel stuff going on all around us – including cats riding on mopeds, street vendors peddling sex toys, and a language that encourages you to say “crap” in every sentence (it’s a politeness thing). But work-life balance doesn’t require travel by any means – just look at our buddy Carla, who’s always making the time to do new and fun things in her home town despite having a job and doing a startup on the side.

All in all, it’s a great reminder that while we’re congratulating ourselves on having everything sussed, there’s a good chance we’re way further from being enlightened than we think we are. We think the monks would approve of that attitude.

Got anything you want us to ask a monk? Reply and let us know!

  • Heh, so I just arrived back in London after spending most (11 months) of 2012 in Thailand – and I can see exactly where your coming from with the uninspired point. Right now everything feels brand new again, and the freak snow storm that’s going on here is almost bearable because I haven’t seen snow in 2 years. But all ready, getting back to work here, I’m having flashbacks to those uninspired afternoons I had before hitting the road, and I’m doing everything I can to make sure I’m not still mindlessly trudging away in London next winter.

    By the way, I went to monkchat in Chiang Mai with a friend and we were both blown away. The monk we spoke to was possibly one of the wisest 17 year olds I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with, and his break downs of Buddhism in a historical and philosophical sense has changed my outlook forever, while my friend went on to study Buddhism at a university in Nepal….

    not to set your expectations too high or anything – but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it 🙂

    • Rob @ Making It Anywhere

      Wow Lewis, way to raise our expectations – anything less than a full-on spiritual awakening will seem like a failure now 😉

      It’s weird how we both find it hard to get inspired in London – it’s not like it’s Stoke or anything, so it must just be that it’s too familiar and we take it for granted.

      Then again, I think the community is a big part of it too: in a week in Chiang Mai we’ve already met more people who share our outlook than we knew in London.

      Shame we missed each other in CM. Keep us posted with how you keep the inspiration alive back home!

  • I did get a little over excited with my monkchat description there huh 😉

    I used to study in Hull, which while a little boring overall, I did find it easier there to hunker down and focus. No comparison to 6 days I spent in Chiang Mai & Pai just before Christmas though – like you said having inspirational/aspirational people around who are cool-as to just hang out with too was a game changer!

    Yeah familiarity must play a big part in it – nothing has really changed here from 2 years ago so it seems easy to slip back into old habits and routines that I spent a lot of time working to change while in Thailand.

    Will definitely keep you updated, reading this blog has inspired me to get my site off the ground again.