Americans have an obsession. Obsession is itself quite an American thing. But perhaps the most American obsession of all is the obsession with work. When you first meet someone you exchange names and then the second question is, “What do you do?” Working is a strong part of our identities, and while that is very human it can also be taken overboard.
In an age where the lines between work life and home life are being increasingly blurred, is it even still possible to achieve a healthy balance between work and life?
The Average Work Day Is Getting Longer
Americans once spend 8 hours at work a day, 40 hours per work week, period. Today that number is creeping up, and more than 11% of Americans are working more than 50 hours a week. Our side hustles have side hustles. It’s no surprise that the United States ranks 30th worldwide in terms of work/life balance. We’re all stressed out and it’s starting to take a toll.
Why Is This Happening?
In short, technology is behind the majority of our increasing workloads. It has been a great thing to be able to work from anywhere thanks to the Internet and portable computing technology. Unfortunately the flip side of that is you can now check your email at the dinner table, and oftentimes your boss may even expect you to do so. People are split about whether this is OK – 40% say it’s OK to answer urgent work emails at the dinner table, while 57% say that technology has ruined the modern family dinner.
How To Balance Work And Life Better
Just because it was once customary to spend 40 hours at your desk every week doesn’t mean that is how it has to be forever. You can actually leverage that same technology that is hurting your balance and use it to achieve a new sense of balance. Negotiating to be able to work from home can save you on valuable commuting time and allow you to fit more life into your day.
It can also help you save your vacation days for an actual vacation when you have to work from home because of inclement weather. Flexible scheduling is another way to achieve better balance in your life – no one wants to miss out on the school play because they are required to be physically present during set hours.
Technology Doesn’t Have To Be A Bad Thing
Using technology in a positive way can bring balance back into you life. But what’s more, you have to be able to identify where things have gotten out of balance and take the time to both figure out what needs to happen and talk about creating those lines with your boss.
There is no magic formula like there once was when the 40 hour work week was initially established. We’re charting new territory here as a society and there’s going to be a learning curve. Learn more about restoring balance between work and life from this infographic!