Work Life Balance

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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:

  • overeating
  • 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.

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20 responses »

  1. Well said CD,

    I, as a chronic workaholic, came to the realization that stress at work was literally going to kill me. I had no expectations that I was going to move on, except feet first. That realization finally gave me the courage to quit a couple months ago, after being in essentially the same job for more than 20 years.

  2. Amen. Like that part about the wreath. People don’t realise just how expendable they are. The world has gotten materialistic, and companies are taking advantage.

  3. Salute, great post. People that whine about how busy they are all day, and how they must stay till 8 in the evening irritate me. To be frank, i could finish my job within four every day. And I am pretty sure 80% of the workforce falls into this category. People use their inefficiently, going for twelve smoke breaks a day, emailing, useless meetings about nothing, meandering conversations, all waste time.

    I love that you take time for youself, as women we tend to forget to be good to ourselves.

  4. This is a timely post — there was a (Fox TV?) report de other night detailin’ de pressure some marketers (consumer/retail mkts) undergo at this time of the year. Sad that work-pressure takes precedence for so many at Christmas.

  5. I found that out many many years ago after sitting in traffic and counting cars and people as they passed because my job was counting. I was throwing myself into work to the point where it was creating problems. these days I live by the fact that tomorrow is another day.

  6. People are forgetting how to LIVE; when they do get some free time, they have to have a machine show them something or play a game with them… sad.

  7. Work…. can’t live without it. But I agree, one must take time to enjoy R&R, otherwise too much of that which helps us to live, will surely help us to die! (And all dem a go do is find one next eediat fe do the wuk fe less!)

  8. very interesting post. I remembered when I was working back in Malaysia. I had a workaholic boss, she schedules meetings at 5.30pm when its time to leave. Though we tried telling her we have kids, pets and spouses at home, she never gets it (she is single in her mid 30s and living with her parents).

    I agree with cranky putz, I could finish my work at 4 everyday and my quality of work is never jeopardize. I have since quit my job though I loved it and I still hear whining from my ex work mate who isnt bold enough to leave the company.

  9. The thing that many bosses don’t realise is that people are more productive when they work sensible hours and take regular holidays. Working ridiculous hours all the time doesn’t make your work better – it just makes it look to some people with confused minds that you are dedicated and hard-working. I’m hard working. I work hard during my work hours, get things done and then I leave.

  10. This is totally off topic:

    CD, I just went to Your Profile (under Users), browse to find the pic that I wanted, cropped it ad voila, it was there. Don’t understand why yours coming out black. Have you tried another photo just to see?

    You know, I thought you wanted that black pic – thought you were being different, hehe.

    Dunno, didn’t do anything extra.

  11. Gela, I had done all that and it just kept coming up black. I just changed it so let’s see what happens. I just couldn’t find the option for the picture after going thru the dashboard a million times.

  12. Absolutely wonderfull post! Employers just seem to want more from employees and giving the employees less compensation. I will never give up my vacation, but I continue to work the overtime cause I need the money. I don’t have much of a family around me now, so I can work the overtime. But when I have my own family, work will never rob me of my precious moments.

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