About a hundred years ago, starry-eyed optimists looked into the future and saw technology taking over the mundane tasks of daily living (and working), leaving humanity with much more time for leisure.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way.
That wonderful technology that would free us from drudgery has actually done the opposite, allowing many companies to downsize their workforce and creating a much heavier workload for those who are left.
Today, Americans are working an average of 46 hours a week; 38% say they’re working more than 50 hours a week. Most Americans average 10 vacation days a year – compared to 25 days in Great Britain and 30 days in Germany. Fully 25% of U.S. workers take no holidays at all.
Not to mention working through lunch hours and mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks.
The bottom line? Family, home, community, relationships and health suffer.
In a 2000 study of United Kingdom workplace managers, 65% said work was damaging their health and 77% admitted that it affected their relationship with their children. Based on diaries completed by 21,000 British couples, the Office of National Statistics found that the average British couple spends just 15 minutes a day enjoying a social life.
Macy’s, which employs about 30,000 people, came to the conclusion that employees’ personal lives affect the quality of their work.
Back before the economic meltdown, a survey of 300 job-seekers conducted for the New York Times showed that 75% of people looking for a new job were doing so because of the stress in their current workplace.
To help ease that stress, some companies have stepped forward with programs to help cope with work-life balance, a phrase that first appeared in our vernacular some 20 years ago.
Flex time, flex space, flex careers, flex leaves, job sharing, on-site day care, in-house holistic therapies such as Reiki and massage, and even concierge services (hiring someone to go out and do all those errands that eat into staffers’ free time) have all been tried.
And they do work…when they are implemented. But not all companies have the top management’s commitment or the wherewithal to offer such opportunities.
When it comes to creating work-life balance, most of us are on our own.
Here are some questions to ask yourself in exploring how you might bring better balance into your life:
- What am I doing to take care of myself?
- What three areas of my life are giving me the most stress?
- What will I do to eliminate that stress altogether? (Yes, it can be done.)
- Who or what in my work and home environment takes away energy from my life?
- How can I change that?
- What 10 things give me enormous pleasure?
- How can I do more of those things? Tip: If you are incredibly busy, you may have to schedule these things as “appointments” with yourself. Do it!
- What more can I do to take care of my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health?
- Who are five people that I can turn to for support (paid and unpaid)?
- What 10 things (people, beliefs, ideas, etc.) do I need to release to get the most enjoyment out of my life?
A life balance coach can help you create a plan, and give you support along the way.
How are you taking care of your own needs? Please share in the comments.