Have you got work life balance?

Working hours are getting longer. Many people are generally working or travelling for 14 out of 24 hours. Take out 8 hours for sleeping and this means 2 hours a day left for cooking, washing, eating, seeing friends etc. So the weekends are generally a mad catch up.


 Not taking all their holiday leave

Work seems to be becoming even more important with many people not even taking their full holidays. It seems we’re busy or too worried about our careers as reported here.


Lunch is for wimps

In some areas “lunch is definitely for wimps”.  It appears the more status your job role has or the more well paid you are the more hours you work. For example doctors regularly work 80 hours a week. Yet we only allow lorry drivers to work up to 55 hours any one week and we put a tachograph on them to monitor this.

I hate those numerous life style articles about top management executives who are always in at 7.30am and leave again around 7.30pm. But they “always keep week ends free for family” as if this a lifestyle we should all aim for.

Our legislation is very clear it states an average of 48 working hours is a maximum.


It’s not just top executives who work long hours

At the other end of the scale, women on minimum wage have to work long hours to make ends meet. If you’re earning less than €9 euro per hour, living in Ireland is very expensive. A visit to the GP costs €50 to €60 euro.

People are living longer and the rate of dementia is increasing requiring more carers. Carers also work very long hours. It can be particularly tough if your loved one is waking up at night as well.


Do better managers work less?

The best manager I ever worked with was occasionally in before 9am, went home for lunch and was only seen in the office after 5pm in a real crisis. When he retired longer and longer hours became the norm. One of the reasons I left was when a short week became 55 hours with frequent seventy hour weeks.


Measure results not hours worked

Yes, there are times long hours are required but on an ongoing basis I know from personal experience they get less and less productive. Our politicians work very long hours yet we don’t seem to have much vision and planning in this area. Before the most recent Dail (Government) took holidays  it passed just eight pieces of legislation.

So despite long hours not  delivering more our society does not really value a healthy work life balance.


Work life balance is possible

Ricardo Sempler runs his company in a very unusual way. Employees choose when they come to work and how long they work. Staff can work in the places they choose. He firmly believes in work life balance yet his company has been really successful. His book “The 7 day weekend, changing the way work works” is worth reading or watch his TED talk

So one organisation insists employees have work life balance and allows them to be the boss of themselves. This very different approach shows that our current approach to work life balance which reduces our happiness and effectiveness is not the only way.


Work life balance is essential

Stephen Covey,  believes effective people have balance in their lives spending time in all four key dimensions. These dimensions are physical, spiritual, mental and social. Yet so much of Irish culture does not support this approach.  Instead we tend to drown our sorrows in alcohol.


Trying to be superwoman hurts

With such long hours, many people get stuck on the hamster wheel. They then turn to alcohol either to give them the energy to keep going or maybe to blot out the misery of a mundane, repetitive or pressurised working life.

There is too much pressure on women to be superwomen and to do it all. Have the successful career, social life, lovely home, partner, children, look good, care for aging parents etc. It means more and more women are hitting the bottle.

Many woman are now drinking too much– above the recommended level of up to 11 standard drinks per week and putting their health at risk. Yet they feel unable to change their situation, trapped in a stressful and pressurised life.


Take a small step

It is always possible to improve your situation.  If you believe you are stuck, you will probably stay stuck. If you believe you can change your situation you will succeed. So think about what is the smallest step you can take to improve your life?  Exercise is a great help and you don’t have to even get sweaty. Once a week you could decide to get off the bus one stop earlier. Or you could take a 15 minute walk around your local area. They key thing is to get started. You can change your life for the better.

This post was written by Carol

As some who gets hangovers lasting a week, Carol never drank too much - Once she got to a sensible age! However as a patient with an auto immune illness, since she was a teenager she has to drink very little. So she really understands how Irish society makes this very difficult. Carol is responsible for all aspects of Lifewise operations that Valerie and Angela do not cover.

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