Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Balancing Act...

‘Wow, lucky people’
‘I should also become a Business Analyst. Their life is so easy and relaxed’
‘So early? Kabhi toh kaam kar liya karo yaar…’
‘Aish hain’
Almost about to complete 9 years of professional life as a Business Analyst and these comments have become a part of my professional life. To be precise, after I became a Mother, Working Mother that is.

If I pack my bags and leave office by 6:30 PM IST, I get to hear all of the above comments, taunts, unfulfilled wishes of how beautiful my life is. Is it that beautiful? On face of it, yes. But once I reach home after driving in mad traffic for 45 mins, I almost immediately have to get on the calls. Sometimes for mere 30 minutes, sometimes for continuous 2 hours; while my three year old daughter at times bang my door, simply coz she wants to meet me and hug me after many hours. Then I play with her. If possible, feed her one of the meals of her day. Prepare hot chapatis to have dinner with the family. Clean up the room. Make her drink milk while narrating one story after the other. Make her go to sleep. Finally, again picking up my laptop to sometimes finish off my pending work, sometimes to get on a call with my US team working well past mid night.

So, should I wear my daily calendar when I am leaving the office at 6:30 PM? And where do I mention on that wearable calendar that I almost ruined my Diwali vacations when I visited my hometown after 2.5 years and yet ended up with puffed eyes since I enjoyed during the day and worked during late nights?
I refrain from dropping any mails or replying to any of them during those late India hours unless it is required. But if I do, next day, people label me as a SHOW OFF. Sometimes I feel like explaining them for why I dropped that mail so late in the night instead of waiting for the morning. But then I am like, what the hell? They have already decided that I was showing off and they won't understand the reason. So, I just leave it there. I am not answerable to any of them. They call it an easy life. I call it a Balancing Act. My company is not paying me thousands of rupees monthly to reach office at 11 and leave at 6:30. They are paying me for the quality of work that I do.

I remember one such incident. Normally, when I get lot of things on my plate, I have a habit of preparing a prioritized To-Do list and start working on them one by one and marking them off my list. On one fine day, I spent 10 minutes to prepare my To-Do list and found out that almost all the items have the deadline of TODAY. So, I decided that I am going to focus on finishing them off. I had no tea. Did not call my mother, as I usually do. Took minimal breaks and by 5:45 PM felt proud of myself that I had cleared off all those items from my list. Took a 15 minutes relaxed break to talk to my colleague-cum-friend and by 6:00 PM I decided to leave the office. While I covered the mere 50-100 meters of distance from my desk till the lift, I encountered 5 of my colleagues who sarcastically pointed out that I had a great, easy going and enjoyable life that I am leaving my office at 6 and I was like: ‘Yes Idiots. I can leave at 6 because I planned my day well, completed my work and no one is dependent on my physical presence in the office. You, on the other hand, are wasting your unplanned day by taking multiple un-required breaks, having that extra sugary tea and goofing around’.

If I leave by 6:30 and then login at midnight, it’s not out of choice. It’s out of my circumstances. I have a small kid to take care of, who meets me after a gap of 7 to 8 hours. Believe me, I am not just a typist who writes some stories. I am a professional business analyst, who thinks, analyzes and writes the technical document, named as User Stories. If you think that I create that junk document in mere 15 minutes, I challenge you to create that JUNK document with the same quality for me. Quality is the word. Yes, your life is tough. So is mine. The grass always look greener on the other side.

Such comments once is fine. Twice is okay. Thrice can still be ignored. But not every day. And what are YOU expecting? Are you my boss? Is your work being affected if I leave early? If yes, raise that concern to my manager or to me. I can correct that but don’t expect me to sit in the office till late in the night just because of you, your targets, your unplanned day and your incomplete work. That’s your problem. Not mine. Every such irresponsible comment or taunt kills me. For God’s sake, my parents had spent lakhs of money on my education and I can proudly say that I have burnt the midnight oil to grasp that knowledge and get a job for myself. Never ever have any of my managers called me to complain that I am not doing my work well. On the contrary, have always got the best of compliments for my work from the fraternity. Then how can leaving early be a problem for you or for me? If I sit in the office and take calls from there and then leave for home at 8 or 9 PM, does that mark me a better employee? How? I fail to understand that logic simply because we have virtual meetings. When all the people on the call can practically take it from anywhere, how does taking it from office makes me a better or hard working employee?

Your role is difficult, so is mine. Yours might be more difficult than mine but that doesn’t make my role easy. It’s just a tad bit easier. And I guarantee that if you plan it better and be more disciplined, you can also complete your work well within time and leave EARLY. You might be gauged on the hard skills of coding and testing. I am gauged on the soft skills of writing stories and communicating and managing. You miss a line of code or a test case, you are questioned and grilled. I miss an important communication or miss an acceptance criteria in my story, I am questioned and grilled. You decide to work hard to get a hike or a promotion. I do a balancing act to continue the work that I love and get hugs from my daughter.

Keep feeling jealous but don’t pour that out on me…