Work Life Balance. So Where is the Balance Part?
This piece was originally published on Notable.ca
Most of us complain about the absence of work/life balance quite regularly. Self-help books are written to tackle this problem; companies are taking initiatives to conquer that fine balance and even going as far as developing programs to assist in achieving that close to impossible equilibrium. Yet despite all the awareness and efforts, this issue remains unresolved for too many.
I chose to write about this topic this week because I found myself working yet again during my oh-so-precious weekend, which I must sincerely admit put me in one hell of a cranky and miserable state. As I was bitterly completing my tasks, I struggled to comprehend why it was I bust my bum all week at work to find myself busting my bum again on the weekend. Sounds familiar to some of you young professionals?
And so I wondered, how did we get here? Better yet, how can we get out of here?
How We Got Here
The reality is that most of us young professionals are somewhat ambitious. We like to learn, we like to grow, we like to achieve and we love recognition. Ultimately we try to accomplish all these things at the expense of, well, our well-being. We feel the need to perform, either because it’s in our nature, we are protecting our egos or simply because we are competitive. I can relate to some of these realities, but one thing that I know for sure is that I, amongst many other young professionals, prefer to be far away from the perimeters of work for so many reasons; one of which is to have fun.
Some of you will read this and reflect with a “But I have fun at work.” Well, you are either a happy minority or a majority that is in grave denial (didn’t mean to burst your bubble).
Seriously, work could be fun, especially if fellow colleagues are awesome. However, the continuous stress and pressure of performing overshadows any pro work facts. Additionally, the long hours that extend beyond the dictated 9–5 overflow into our fun time, which in turn leads to a catastrophic finale. Let me explain further.
As mentioned above, many of us young professionals are naturally hard working. If overtime is required, which, let’s face it, has become a norm, we will commit to it like good and devoted employees. The problem is that we try to maintain the same hours of fun time with the additional hours of work time leading to compromised hours of sleep time, ultimately making us tired, cranky and unproductive. Sigh. We enter into this degenerating vicious cycle of “working hard, playing hard,” a quote that forgets to mention the potential consequence: a burnout.
Burnouts used to be extremely frowned upon, but now, if you haven’t had one, you’re missing out! The reality is that working environments have become so demanding and often inhumanly quick. And hence, the resulting overtime, overwork and overtiredness have paved the way to our awaited burnout.
Dear young professionals: we used to believe that we were immune to this outbreak, but it conquers us one by one.
Solutions: How Can We Get Out of Here?
What I find interesting is that apparently Montreal is supposed to be more relaxed and easy going compared to other cities and countries. I always ask myself if this statement is true. Regardless of the answer, we Montreal young professionals still prefer ample time for fun, brunch, coffee, sleeping, hibernating, chilling, festivals, skiing, 5 à 7 and the list goes on.
And so I thought, instead of questioning this statement, I prefer to uncover a few solutions to our work/life balance drawback.
Entrepreneurship Route: Being Your Own Boss
This is really only half a solution, because being an entrepreneur requires excessive hard work and long hours, often compromising everything else in one’s life. However, being an entrepreneur has its upsides: you are your own boss with your own objectives, with all the control and mostly with your own motives. On the downside, you are your main pressure, you might be poor in the first few years of your business (that’s if it doesn’t flop), and finally, and sadly, you have no one to blame for your lack of work/life balance but yourself!
I am a HUGE with a capital H-U-G-E advocate of this solution. Working a five-day week is quite absurd if you think about it. This imposed schedule allows us a slender and unsettling two days of free time, which ends up being unfairly used cleaning our apartments and catching up on life. And yes, I recognize that weekday evenings are also considered time off, but the fact of the matter is that half of them are spent recovering from the miserable working days.
Alternatively, a suggested four-day work week would translate into a expected dreadful Monday, onto an improved Tuesday, drifting into a 5 à 7 Wednesday, a Montreal necessity, and finally to a well deserved and recovering Thursday, leaving us three days to organize our personal lives, to go grocery shopping, clean the house and ultimately lots of time to HAVE FUN as we Montreal young professionals do it best.
Oh, stop frowning. You know that I just wrote what you are clearly thinking. And dear young professionals this solution is not limited to gender. If you can find a wealthy partner, then you are set for life! If one of you rich and handsome men is reading this article, please call me at 514.111.1111.
Train Yourself to Sleep Four Hours
If none of the above is feasible, then we are down to our last option — sleep reduction. You will need to now train yourself to adapt to minimal sleeping hours. The army does it, so why can’t you?
On that note, I wish you all a lovely workweek.