A question: why do we talk about “work-life balance”?
Should work / job / career etc not simply be part of life instead of life’s equal?
It seems somewhat a misdemeanor to segregate finding a job and going to work as a big chunk, and then squish everything else – such as health, family, friends, relationships, hobbies, interests etc – into what we call “life,” and try to balance the two?
That in itself is a faulty premise, for we are trying to juggle one thing i.e. work, with a gazillion other things.
No wonder so many people are still looking for balance.
Ideally, work should be fun and be aligned with personal dreams and aspirations. However, reality is we need to put bread on the table and the income-generating activity we do might not necessarily be the one that we enjoy.
So we get wrapped up in this vicious cycle, and think, as long as we go to the spa and relax, or go hiking on the weekends, we have found the “balance”. I lived under this same illusion for a few years, especially during my younger days in Paris and Tokyo. Today I bear the brunt of this deceiving concept having burnt myself out working with occasional holidays, sitting on the beach, skimming through my blackberry.
Life is what we have and what we do with being alive; life needs to encompass work, not something to be balanced with vis-à-vis work.
Nonetheless, if we do have to juxtapose work with everything else in life, then from a mere quantity perspective, should we not go to work only for 3.5 days a week, and the remaining 3.5 days a “weekend” to pursue our hobbies, interests, sleep, rejuvenate etc?
I understand that balance does not necessarily mean equal chunks, but if we don’t even have an equal amount of time for “work” and an equal amount of time for “life (and everything else we pile into it)” to start with, then how do we even begin to find a balance?
I suggest we start with half the week working, and half the week life-ing.
However much I subscribe to the ideas of Tim Ferris’ book, a four-hour work week seems slightly far-fetched for most people. More realistic is to work half the week making money to pay for our expenses for the other half of the week enjoying ourselves. Enough rest and rejuvenation would increase our productivity so the end achievement could be the same as working 5 days a week, if not better.
Another level of course, as we all dream, is to not even have that clear cut segregation, for we can enjoy ourselves while we work and make money to finance the lifestyle we prefer.
Perhaps when I’m back on my feet I will start a worldwide campaign with large corporations to allow their employees to work only three and a half days per week with the same, if not more, pay. The companies need not lose productivity; they simply hire more people and work them in shifts. I’m sure some management consultancy firm / HR expert would be happy to take on a project for another million dollars advising companies how to organize their employees in shifts. I can advise too, except I don’t like verbose PowerPoint presentations or coloured charts.
But really, in all honesty, I’m just rambling. I take consolation in that at least Frog Design agrees with me.
What’s your take on a 3.5 day weekend?