What should worklife balance mean to me if work is my life?

What should worklife balance mean to me if work is my life? Find out at Paywizard.org.

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The proverbial question…working to live, or living to work?  Rather, I do not view the issue as nearly such a stark dichotomy but instead, as more of a spectrum – and the only person able to discover where your ideal balance exists is you.  Based on our own personal and professional goals and priorities, we each determine how we will balance life and work.  This differs for everyone, based on their own preferences, family situations, community involvement, interests, etc.  No one can definitively state what a universal ideal would or should be.  Problems emerge, however, when we are not able to realize and truly live (or even come close to living) the balance we set for ourselves – a very common frustration – or when we do not actually have balance, such that one extreme or the other is not at all productive or constructive but perhaps destructive.

If you say that work is your life, is it because you would like it this way, or is it simply the situation in which you’ve found yourself or allowed yourself to succumb to over the years?  If you opt for a heavy emphasis on your worklife, this is absolutely fine, so long as you are satisfied and your work does not suffer for lack of breaks or diversity.  In other words, if you are okay with your current situation, no worries.  However, if you are seeking a different balance such that you need to recharge or depressurize (or simply sleep!) more, which will subsequently help you in both your professional and personal spheres, then there may be some (sorry!) work to do…

You’re certainly not alone.  In her 1991 book, The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure, Juliet Schor analyzed historic, economic, and cultural trends in her examination of the increasing demands on modern workers.  Schor identified a distinct shift in balance between work and leisure time that has emerged only in recent years and that has exacerbated individual, family, and societal burdens alike.  A pivotal work, I would certainly recommend this book to you; however, I also understand that your scarce free time creates a difficult Catch-22.  Perhaps you can enjoy listening to it in audiobook form while commuting, for example?

Last year in 2005, the New York-based Families and Work Institute released a study revealing that 1 in 3 employees are chronically overworked and that more than half, in the month prior, felt overwhelmed by their workload.  Further, although 79% had access to paid vacations in 2004, 36% of all employees were not tapping their full vacation time allotted.  And those who do enjoy some respite mainly take short vacations, which FWI found left employees returning to work feeling less relaxed than those who had been able to enjoy longer periods of rest or enjoyment outside of work. 

Different professions and workplaces naturally promote various cultures and norms.  Because employers are often well aware that improved balance between work and personal life actually improves productivity – reducing mistakes, absenteeism, turnover, and increasing workplace effectiveness and morale – many are keen to identify ways of improving their employees’ worklives; however, they may simply not know how best to do so.  Because I am not sure whether you are looking for a change or simply inquiring about what worklife should look like for someone who thoroughly enjoys and is committed to work, I will let you take a look at these resources for yourself.

Good luck!