How do you balance work at your job? I have the traditional work that is my job, then I have the "other work" that I do because we're swamped, then I have the "fun" work I do that's related to my regular work, but not quite the same.
For example, my regular work is Director of the Web Platform Engineering group. I have a bunch of managers that report to me to run the actual projects. I keep on top of the projects through reporting and various other means. I set the strategy, interact with my other peers in my organization and throughout Sun. I do vendor negotiations for hosting space, support services, hardware evaluations, etc. Lots of work.
Then there's the "other work" - trying new technologies because I was (gah, I have to say was, really) an engineer at one point and I used to write code every day. So I test certain things out as the core engineering group is swamped with day-to-day plus project work. So I try things like virtualization, early releases of Nevada (Solaris v.next), virtual appliances, various strange opensource software like joomla, drupal and other things.
Then I do the "fun" work - little projects for my boss Curtis (responsible for Customer Experience across the company). We're evaluating things like packaging for servers (you know, the boxes), how things fit together, etc. I never thought that could be fun, but it \*is\*. I get to buy and open server products from lots of other companies, and the thing I'm finding is that Sun puts together a really nice package. Ok, there's some work to be done on the number of boxes, but dang, if you've not racked one of our new x4450s, you don't know what you're missing. The rack kit \*snaps\* into a square hole rack. 30 seconds. It took me much longer to drag my boss in and show him the rack kit than it did to install the entire server. I can tell you an apple x-serve doesn't work that way (8000 screws on the floor, nothing fits really really well, the rack kit is \*sharp\* too...). I've gotten so used to having LOM available, I flat out don't know what to do when it's not there. People walk around with keyboard and monitors? What the heck is that about?
Wait, I was talking about balance. Yeah, that's it. Balance. It's hard to scale back on the things you like to do to get the required things done. But that's what you have to do. Someday I'll figure out an algorithm that provides the most amount of "fun," while still getting all the required bits out of the way. Or I can get up at 5am every morning. Dang. I do that already.