Building Work around Life

I care a lot about work. So-much-so that I spent the last year co-writing a book on how to make remote work actually work. Of course, we included the usual suspects: productivity hacks, async communication skills, team work methodologies.

Ultimately, though, we care so much about work because how we work is how we will spend our lives.

According to one statistics-minded journalist, we’ll spend 13 years and two months at work. The only thing that tops work is a place where you spend your unconscious hours: your bed. And when you compare it to other things we value as a society, like friendship (328 days socializing across a lifetime) and romance (395 days being romantic), work wins.

If we’re spending so much of our lives working, how can we make that time as fruitful as possible. What would it look like when we repurpose the average 4.5 hours per week we previously spent commuting pre-pandemic to something more meaningful? What if we put an end to the 60% of our days that we spent on “work about work,” like coordination, duplicating tasks, and unnecessary meetings?

I believe nearly anything, even if that’s taking a nap or absently daydreaming while staring at the ceiling, is better than sitting in a car during rush hour on a 6-lane highway or finding out you just completed an assignment someone else did last week.

That’s why remote work matters. We get a real chance to shift how work (and therefore life) looks for the next generation.

As Noah Gale, the co-founder of, aptly put it: “The last 40 to 50 years in mainstream American culture, our entire life has been about work, which is sad if you really think about it. It's just been your identity. People built their life around work. Now, I think people are building work around their life. That's a beautiful thing.”

What would it look like if you built your work around life? If that’s a hard question to answer, take a few minutes and listen to Alan Watts for inspiration. I promise, he’ll spark some ideas.