I started this post on Tuesday, with many edits but this is the final version.
A report on CNN Headline News this morning talked about working 70 hr work weeks and the impact on the individual and by extension, their families. The findings were:
- less exercise
- less time with family (children)
- impact on sexual performance
People seem to be more career driven these days than say 20 years ago as we spend more and more time at work. Companies are now expecting employees to work overtime without claiming payment, come in on weekends without being compensated … and more and more people are doing it. In contradiction, this article on CNN tells of companies encouraging healthy habits of its employees.
So, what is work life balance? Does it really exist? Are the companies who comit to maintaining a healthy work life balance living up to these committments?
Work Life Balance, simply put is the proportion of work to personal life being fairly if not evenly distributed. So, in an ideal world, no one should be working 70hrs per week, as opposed to the normal 40hrs. People should not be consumed with their job to the point where they go to work as early as they can, leave as late as they can, and even try to squeeze in some more when they get home. This is becoming the norm rather than the exception.
And what does this do to our families? Wives & husbands are no longer getting enough attention from their spouse, children are being raised by nannies, extra marital affairs may flourish if the so-called dedication to work is only the practice of one party, couples may drift apart of there is sexual disfunction as a result of working these long hours.
I learnt the less on of balance 3 years ago when I fainted at work. Although my scenario is a bit different in that I was supervising 2 departments at my office and attending school at the same time. When I didn’t have school, I was working very late at work, sometimes until 10 p.m. in a downtown office (don’t freak out now). It eventually took a toll on my body and it told me to slow down. Unlike many other people I know, I listened to my body and stopped pushing myself so hard. I take my lunch every day and take 10 minutes out of every day to go to the waterfront and watch the polluted water waves and the planes land and take off from the airport. It does wonders for my mind, my body and my approach when I get back to my office.
I have since maintained the following stances:
- Work overtime ONLY is absolutely necessary
- take my full 1 hr lunch time
- If I need time for personal business, I take it, even if it was 3 days a week.
- If I feel ill (too ill to work effectively), I stay home
What impact has this had on my career? Absolutely none. Since 2003, I’ve received 2 promotions. Why? The quality of my work speaks for itself. I’ve always maintained that it is not how long you are at work, but the amount/quality of work you put in when you are there. Now that I’ve started my family, I know I’ll be living up to my stance even more now. It will be a challenge as my current job will require me to travel overseas at least once per month but I’m prepared to handle it as best as possible without compromising my time with my family.
So, to all the work-a-holics who may be reading this, take a break. Enjoy the simple things in life, the things you used to love doing and now you just can’t seem to find the time. Spend time with your families, continue to get to know your children if you have and connect more with your spouse or significant other, make passionate love, laugh a little … no, laugh a lot!! Don’t let the pressure of work take over your life. At the end of the day, it isn’t worth it. My philosophy is work can never be finished, so no point in trying to get all of it done today. And, if anything should happen to you, someone will quickly be chosen to fill your space/shoes, with nothing more than a wreath, a few good words at your funeral about how hardworking and dedicated you were, and then forgotten next week.