Have you ever been white water rafting? Here in Folsom, California, we’re very near the American River. Yes, that’s right – the California gold rush, Sutter’s Mill, and all that. We’re just about 25 miles away from Coloma, in the Sierra Nevada foothills. There isn’t a lot of gold mining activity these days, but an awesome activity is river rafting. If you come to Folsom in the summer, definitely try to do that.
I’m not sure how my wife’s cell phone heard about river rafting, but it decided that it wanted to try it. And it decided that the washing machine was the closest thing to it. So, it stowed away in the pocket of her hoodie and took the ride around and around and around. Sadly, it did not make it to the end of trip.
The silver lining of this cloud is that my wife needed a new phone. That may not seem like good news but to me, it meant “I get a new phone.” See, my wife gets my hand-me-down phones because, well, let’s just say she’s not what you’d call an early adopter. Whereas, I normally order new gadgets the first day they’re available. So, it works.
My wife got my iPhone 3GS and I picked up a new iPhone4. The day of my wife’s cell phone’s river rafting trip just happened to be the first day the white iPhone4 was available. Obviously, it was meant to be.
One of the really excellent things about working at Intel is flexibility. I can pick up my Intel email, my calendar appointments, and pretty soon, use our internal instant messenger on my mobile device. That means that I have the flexibility to better manage my work and the rest of my life using my white iPhone4. I can look for that important email while I’m in line at Trader Joes. I can find the conference call number and attend a meeting while I’m driving without any hassle. Or if I’m running late to a meeting, I can easily notify the meeting organizer.
This flexibility might be a small thing to some people. And there are those who don’t like to be so easily and constantly connected to their work. Let me just say, my manager doesn’t expect me to be available 24×7. It’s not about that. To me, the flexibility I have to stay connected is huge in helping me do my job more effectively.
Here’s an example for you. A couple weeks ago I was enjoying one of my hobbies, riding my horse after work. I knew that I had a phone call with a contact in Malaysia that evening. I ended the ride and, checking the time, saw I was behind schedule. I checked my email on my phone and saw that, unfortunately, my contact had developed bronchitis and had canceled the meeting. So, instead of putting the horse away wet and rushing home to get on my computer and only then seeing that cancellation, I took care of my horse properly and met my wife for dinner.
That’s because, for me, there is no clear line between “work” and “life”. For example, when I tweet about an Intel job opening, is it only a work tweet? When I talk to someone at the office over coffee and I ask how their kids are, is that only about “life”? I can’t say there is such a thing as “work/life balance” because that implies there is a line between the two. In reality, it’s a blur. I think of it as “work/life effectiveness”. And the raft of flexibility tools Intel provides help me keep things flowing. And current. For shore.