Feeling out of sync? Are you spending too much time at the office and not enough time with your family and friends? Are battling the find the work/life balance in your life?
Work/Life Balance – Where did it all begin? We went from slavery to working until your work was completed to formally implementing working hours. Legislation in South Africa states that we to work a maximum of 45 hours per week with a 12 hour rest in between. In the UK, it’s slightly more, working 48 hours per week with 11 hours rest in between.
Employers have gone a step further to allow flexible working hours and with the advance of technology even working from home – sounds great! Even if you spend the day in the office, you tend to have your emails sent to your phone which goes home with you at night and we are tempted to deal with them “just quickly”. The reality is that the boundaries between work and life become blurred, especially when working from home.
The theory is that if we balance our career with our lives, we will be happy.
Why are our lives and our happiness measured against work? Is work the only aspect of our lives that is important? Why not, family time or food or exercise? Why is work singled out as being the measure of balance in our life? Surely, work is part of life? Yes?
Work is part of my life, as I am sure it is part of yours too but it is not the only thing in your life.
The concept of work/life balance implies that we are to have equal work to life ratio. Realistically, this is often not possible. Work is part of life, as is sleeping, eating, family time, personal hygiene, dog walking etc. I don’t know about you, but for this reason, I do not buy into the work/life balance concept.
It is less about having equal amounts of work and “life” but rather viewing life as a system which includes work as one of the aspects in it. Like with all systems, all aspects work together to function effectively. If we focus is on one specific aspect for too long then there will be consequences in other areas of our life. For example, if we had to work 7 days a week, our health, family and relationships would suffer.
Awareness of every aspect of our life rather than balance is important. If I had to work long hours for an extended period, my health would suffer. Being aware of health – how I tried I am feeling, and my diet of sugary foods and chocolates to get me thought the day, is a clear indication that I need to rest and give my body some good wholesome food. Being aware and adapting accordingly.
If you hate Mondays, it is unlikely that that you have work/life imbalance but rather disliking part of it. Being aware of this dislike will cause you to take action to find a new job or gain a different perspective.
Forget trying to balance your life and your work. Aim to enjoy your life, all of it, as it’s the only life you have.