There’s a difference between working hard and the work being hard on you.
We all know it. The importance of maintaining a balance between our office and leisure hours has forever been taught to us- All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. But no one quite teaches you the art of doing so.
Most people seem to have skipped the sign that says that there should be a 50-50 approach towards work and other life interests. This is clearly a glaring beacon that says it’s time to reassess your strategy.
A recent study conducted by Kisi examined how work-life balance fairs across the globe. The examination considered the experiences of people from US and other countries, guided by metrics to see how work and life interact with each other. Work criteria included hours worked per week, vacations taken, and length of commutes, measured with life in terms of less common factors like access to mental health care, gender and LGBTQ+ equality, amount of outdoor spaces, and wellness and fitness.
Helsinki, Finland (a Blue Zone) topped the list owing to its high happiness indices. It also scored high for wellness and overall safety. In the US, San Diego ranked the highest, particularly because of its many outdoor spaces, in addition to happiness. Amongst the low-ranking cities were Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur and Detroit in US. It was noticed that work life supersedes leisure by multiple folds in these places.
A pattern of sorts seems to surface when you consider the data as a whole. There is noticeable integration of the two, in areas where there is more scope for a smooth transition from work to play.
The co-authors of the book Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World, Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall suggest that separating your work life in terms of what you loathe and your play life in terms of what you love is a good approach towards juggling between the two. A writing published in Time brings their thoughts to light. This way you can get clarity on how to then devote time to each.
“Our research (a stratified random sample of the working populations of nineteen countries) reveals that 73 percent of us claim that we have the freedom to modify our job to fit our strengths better, but that only 18 percent of us do so,” they write.
The idea is to look at work from a different perspective. “Some people think work equates to suffering,” says Maggie Mistal, a career coach in New York City. “We define it as a chore—as individuals, as a society. But being at work can be a loving experience where you’re really happy and where you’re expressing yourself.”
According to Well and Good, working through lunch or receiving all calls in the hope of getting a raise or promotion is what drives us to work more than we should. “It’s a fear-based kind of approach, as opposed to coming from a place where you think, ‘Work is where I express myself. It’s my opportunity to be creative and to have an impact,'” says Mistal.
So how can you bring about a balance between work and life? Making an “ideal” schedule helps, because it does not let your work life slip beyond a particular number of hours. This also helps in figuring out time you should keep aside for your family and friends, or for yourself to relax. You can also visit career counsellors and life coaches to see what suits your lifestyle.