Work Life Balance – Have you got it?

Over-Working

It seems we Britons continue to work the longest hours in Europe. More than 4 million employees in full time roles work more than 48 hours a week (that’s 700,000 more than did during the 1990s), and one in six regularly works more than 60 hours a week.

According to the TUC, the UK working week is now up to 43.5 hours – three hours longer than the European average. It also found 5.26 million Britons work an average of 7.2 hours of unpaid overtime a week. I’m worn out just writing that!

Technology which has made our lives so much easier on so many levels has also meant it’s much harder to escape from work. It’s always there: in our electronic notebook, our whizzy phone or lap top, staring balefully at us from our briefcase like a silent reproach. How long do you wait before succumbing to those emails? And how many times have you been caught up in the  ‘I can send a work email later than you’ game?’ Be honest!

Stress at Work

You may absolutely thrive on stress at work; indeed maybe you can’t get motivated unless there’s an important deadline looming. This is fine if it works for you. For most of us, however, there comes a point when we need to take a break. (See ‘Do You Give Too Much‘) If you let the balance get out of kilter you’ll start to experience the classic symptoms of stress (see Top Five Symptoms of Stress). Play smart and try and stop it before it starts!

Work Life Balance Exercise

Try this for one week. Keep a time diary (otherwise known as a time and motion study on yourself!). As accurately as you can jot down everything you do every day over 7 days with a note of how much time you spend on it. Work could be broken down into tasks if you can manage that. Then you’ll probably have family or friends time, your hobbies, professional development (which includes things like reading a professional magazine). There will be things you do for others and things you do just for you. Just log it, don’t make a value judgement.

Once you have your week’s worth of data sit down in a comfortable chair and look through it. Honestly assess yourself; there is no right or wrong balance to achieve. You will know yourself if it’s getting out of kilter. At different stages of your life you’ll be applying your attention & time in different places. Listen to your intuition; if it feels right it probably is right. But if there is a nagging doubt, pay that doubt some attention and think about some alternative strategies. Get to the stress before it gets to you!

How do you know when your balance is tipping too far in one direction?

Picture Credit: Juanita De Paola

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Posted on August 2nd, 2011 by

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