Avada News • June 2, 2016
In this economy, you might feel pressured to sacrifice a work-life balance just to keep your job. But after you hear the trade-offs, you might reconsider.
A good work-life balance is one in which you work to live, not live to work. We all need to work to pay the mortgage or the rent, put food on the table, and provide for our families. But when you are working so much that you don’t have time to spend with the ones you love, what good is all that money and all those lost hours with your loved ones really worth? Sometimes we get so caught up in work that we forget about our lives and forget to prioritize what’s important. That’s normal. But you, and only you, are in charge of your work-life balance—not your boss.
Things that contribute to a bad work-life balance:
1. Working for someone you abhor
2. Working for a company you despise
3. A long commute or a short one with hellacious traffic
4. Working for a company that doesn’t value your values (e.g., vacation time, flexible schedule, recognition, pay)
Let’s face it: working for someone you hate or for a company you despise is more stressful than you can imagine. You get worked up every time you open an email from your boss, or every time you walk into the office. You despise your meetings with your boss, and you do what you can to avoid him/her.
We all know that a surge in adrenaline caused by severe emotional stress causes the blood to clot more frequently, which increases the risk of having a heart attack. So wouldn’t you want to reduce your stress level by working in a better place or for a better boss?
A long commute is another detriment to your life. Even if you’ve managed to mentally deal with road rage, embraced public transportation, and reduced your carbon footprint, you are still robbing yourself of time—your precious time. Eight or more hours in the car or on the train is the equivalent of working an extra day per week, but you’re only getting paid for five, not six.
You can talk yourself into it any way you want by claiming to multitask from the road, by taking phone calls, having meetings, texting, shaving, putting your makeup on—whatever. But you are still robbing yourself and the people you are interacting with of your full attention. Not to mention that if you are driving while doing these things, you are a danger to society.
Time is a precious thing that we all take for granted when we get into a groove with something. But life can change in an instant. Remember 9/11? Or how about the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake? Life happens, and sometimes we don’t get to do it “tomorrow.”
Your inbox and email will still be there tomorrow. You can miss that supposedly important work meeting and catch up via meeting notes or via a coworker tomorrow. The point is that until you set boundaries, no one else will respect your time. Only you control your work-life balance, so decide how you will react to things, and know that only you can set your boundaries. Take charge of your life again.
My father has always been a hard worker. He has worked in the United States primarily, but has spent a total of five years working in different countries. Two of those five years were spent in Switzerland. This gave me a unique opportunity: the ability to witness work-life balance in two different cultures. While working in the United States, it seemed as though when he got home at the end of the day, he still had more to do. Some nights he would be working as late as 10 o’clock. Even on weekends he was constantly wired in, checking emails and taking phone calls.
When we moved to Switzerland, things were completely different. When my dad got home from work, he was present and did not bring his work home with him most nights. On the weekends, he was with us, not his email. These experiences have given me a bit of insight into the work-life balance in these two different cultures.
Cultural Differences: United States vs. Europe
The United States is among the wealthiest countries in the world. Having a decent work-life balance is sacrificed for that label. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) created a scale from 1 to 10 measuring the quality of work-life balance in different countries. The United States scored a 5.3 while Switzerland scored a 7.2, scoring highly along with other European countries—Denmark came in first with a score of 9.8. Based on these scores, European countries seem to have a better a system in place in comparison to the United States. Only about 2 percent of employees in the Netherlands work long hours, less than eight hours per day. Workers set aside 67 percent of their day for personal time, while the United States sets aside less than 60 percent on average.
Negative Effects of Unhealthy Work-Life Balance
Work life has increasingly grown to disrupt and conflict with family time. This conflict can occur in instances when someone prioritizes their work over their personal life. Issues can be created within families and can lead to stressful living situations. Poor work-life balance can also contribute to emotional instability due to the stresses of trying to balance it all. According to Erik Erikson, a famous psychologist, the fullest lives are those that master an inner balance between work, love, and play.
Tips For Having A Better Work-Life Balance
1. Striving for work-life effectiveness.
Achieving work-life effectiveness is making work fit in with other aspects of life. It is hard to have an equal balance between work and life. Adjusting things in your work and life to make them coincide better can lead to gains with emotional and physical energy as well as better focus with work. An example of this could be when your children inspires you with an idea that could be helpful in the workplace.
2. Take time to define successes in life.
This has to do with home life and work life. If you look at your home life and map out all the successes that do not necessarily involve work, it can enable growth in appreciation for life outside of work. This could possibly lead for a desire to strive for a better work-life balance.
3. Keep work at work as best as you can.
This is probably one of the hardest things to do depending on your job and whom you work for. If possible, keep home and work life separate but not letting one spill into the other. This includes trying to be as productive as possible while at work this way when it’s time to go home at the end of the day, there’s not much more for you to do.
Obviously depending on where you live or who you work for, achieving a healthy work-life balance can be hard. But by adjusting a few simple things in your life and shifting priorities slightly, you can get closer to having one. Striving for work-life effectiveness, redefining successes, and keeping work at work are good places to start when achieving a healthier work-life balance.