05 Jun Striking the Right Balance of Work and Life #DecidedlyLoves
I adore my job. I really do. I love pretty much every aspect of it. I like coming up with awesome approaches to find things out. I love solving complex problems and unpicking things. I love meeting the general public and listening to what they have to say. I love finding the patterns, telling stories and helping clients act confidently.
I probably have just one core frustration with what I do – or more to the point, what I don’t do. I don’t make anything. Most of my output is thought (and then typing up that thought or making it into a video or podcast). I think a lot, but I don’t make a lot. So, for me, it is important to have an outlet where I get to create in something in three dimensions. There is something deeply satisfying and necessary about making something physical – going from an idea to an object.
About two years ago, I decided to take a pottery evening class. I started out small. This was actually quite an undertaking because with frequent fieldwork and travel, it can be really hard to stick to an evening commitment. But with the support of the team at Decidedly, we made it work – they respected that this was important for me and supported a slightly less flexible schedule. On my side of the bargain, I had to be disciplined to leave my desk on time every Tuesday which is easier said than done! After 12 weeks, I was totally hooked. Another few months of classes followed and then I got a permanent place at a members’ studio.
There is something about ceramics that really works for me. The output is shareable, it involves a range of skills without the need for being massively artistic, and you can see your skills develop over time and practice and effort really pays off. Most importantly for me, there is not a lot of thinking involved in making a pot – I come up with an idea (that is the most think-y bit) and then it is going through a set of steps to make it real – these steps have become like muscle memory. I just need to work out the sequence and they just happen. I think people think that pottery is relaxing – I am not sure pottery is relaxing. It is physically quite strenuous, and the learning curve is very very steep. Yet focusing on something outside of myself and thinking only about the project I am working on for several hours a week is a positive, calming thing.
This summer (like last summer), I am dropping my time in the office down to 4.5 days a week, so I can be in the pottery studio more when the weather is warm. I am really fortunate to work somewhere where work life balance is practically facilitated, even at a senior level. At Decidedly, we don’t just talk the talk; we make it happen. Tomorrow afternoon, I will turn of my laptop and put my phone away, get messy and think about nothing #decidedlyloves