Work / Life Balance is Easy – if you want it to be

The topic of work / life balance is becoming one of the most talked about subjects in recent years. People are working harder and spending more hours working than ever before. The main reason that this is happening is technology which enables us to communicate after the traditional work day is over. Technology has provided the opportunity for us to work at night and on weekends and this phenomen is growing dramatically.

When someone tells me that they work 80 hours per week, I have one simple response. The response is that they are either stupid or have no organizational and time management skills. One of my colleagues often says, ” I can get more done in one day than most people can get done in a week ” And you know what? He’s right. It’s never about quantity and always about quality. 

One of the best explanations of this is Parkinson’s Law which states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. This interesting statement was made by Cyril Northcote Parkinson, the famous British historian and author in 1955. The principle means that if you give yourself a week to complete a two hour task, then psychologically speaking, the task will increase in complexity and become more daunting so as to fill that week. It may not even fill the extra time with more work, but just stress and tension about having to get it done. By assigning the right amount of time to a task, we gain back more time and the task will reduce in complexity to its natural state.

Think about when you were in school and had a project to complete in two weeks. You probably started the project a couple of days before the deadline and got most of the work done the night before it was due. 

Ultimately, it’s up to you. If you want to work 80 hours a week, knock yourself out. But at the end of the day, what suffers is family, relationships, your health, your enjoyment of nature and leisure. That’s right – the Important things in life.

Also, your productivity drops when you work too much. Some companies are waking up to this societal problem. Volkswagen has agreed to stop its Blackberry servers from sending emails to workers when they are not on duty. And they are doing it because the work and home lives were being blurred.

Other companies are jumping on board in France and it is now a legally binding agreement that company phones and emails are shut down after 6pm and includes companies like Google and Facebook.

Wake up and smell the coffee before it’s too late. No one lying on their deathbed ever says ” I should have spent more time at work “

It’s up to you.

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