In many surveys that focus on millennials, one major buzzword always comes up: worklife balance. Careful, this article uncovers a couple of painful truths.
The pure and simple math
Let’s break it down… we have 24 hours every day. That gives us 168 hours per week. This has been stable for the last couple of years. So let’s accept this as a fact and basis for the following thoughts.
In our usual work contracts, we are employed for about 40 hours per week. So let’s deduct them from our weekly hour quota. Leaves us with 128 hours which we can fill with activities.
Yes, we do need to sleep, most people around 8 hours per day. Let’s deduct them as well, that leaves us with 72 hours we can fill each week with activities.
And here is the big question… how do we fill these 72 hours? Because they are the ones that we complain about when we say “I am struggling with my worklife balance”. So let’s look at these 72 hours in more detail.
Are your activities imposed by external factors?
Employers forcing you to work longer than they pay you for? Family obligations? Commuting to and from work?
Let me make this bold statement: none of the above are carved in stone. Tough truth and there are 100 reasons and excuses why you cannot change them. Sorry to say, but yes you can! Well, actually that’s good news because it means that we live in countries where we can take our own choice of employer, place of residence, choice of family organization etc.
And now let’s move on to the activities we choose ourselves. Which no-one imposes on us.
Do you choose your activities yourself?
We’ve all enjoyed binge-watching our favorite series on Netfl- on the streaming platform of our choice. Do we feel like we spent our Sunday in a meaningful way after lying on the couch for hours and hours… well, I don’t. It still happens to me, but less and less.
How about using all the great apps that make us oh so happy… most of them don’t, check the scientific studies. Especially social media apps have a very negative impact on our happiness. Not at the beginning, but after a while they really depress us. Especially when we check for news 84 times per day and nothing new happened.
Or, of course, we feel the obligation to respond to messages within a certain time frame… then again, what happens if we answer the next day?
And obviously we have to be reachable for colleagues after work hours… do we?
Each of these factors can be solved. The key is to analyze first what really is a pain point.
And then decide which activities could be stopped, optimized, moved, outsourced,…
And then do it.
And then your new challenge will be how to fill the time you freed up.
It's your choice if you want to tackle the external or internal pressure or even both.
But if you don’t do either, then there is at least one great way to save some time: stop complaining to other people about your work life balance. Because you’re clearly the only one who is in charge of your time. So if you’re complaining, you’re complaining about your own management style.
Several painful truths in this article, I know.