If 5 Million People Can Achieve Work-Life Balance - So Can You!
I love this article for showing us that work-life balance is achievable - and on a national level!
I love how a woman stuck in her UK mindset (that late nights and long hours are what counts) following a move to Denmark, assumed that when her husband started arriving home early from work he must have been fired!
The article from Upworthy.com - a media organisation with a refreshing approach to news and media in the 21st century- goes on to explain how in Denmark work-life balance is a crucial part of the national culture. That working fewer hours is just what people do. That on average Danes spend less than one-third of their time working - and yet they’re still more productive than most of the U.K., E.U. or U.S. Read the article to see the three simple principles that underpin this refreshingly healthy, wholesome national approach to work-life balance.
Personally, I draw four things from the article that validate my approach to achieving a healthy mix in all aspects of life - including work - and which I encourage all my clients to adopt.
To be both successful and fulfilled requires each one of us to take personal responsibility for deciding what is important in our lives. For deciding what we will and more importantly will not do. Not to be like Helen Russell in the article, unthinkingly adopting the zeitgeist, but taking ownership of our own lives and decisions - including where, what and with whom we spend our time.
The Law of Diminishing Returns
The classic economic theory that adding more of one factor of production - in this case, our time - while holding all others constant, will at some point yield lower incremental per-unit returns. More simply there is a point beyond which our work becomes less and less effective for each additional hour at work.
I doubt this will surprise you - what may surprise you is that study after study has shown this to be true, and to have shown that the figure where productivity “tails off” sharply is closer to 35-40 hours a week than many would think. Try reading this Harvard Business Review article as a starter.
It’s OK to Have Fun!
“All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy” says the proverb. And it’s true. Everyone -everyone - benefits from time off, time spent with their family, friends.
Time spent doing what nurtures, refreshes and re-energises them - and means that they’re better prepared and equipped to approach their day’s work when they get there.
OK. I can hear the voices of the cynics screaming at mobiles, tablets and laptops across the world at this moment… “Claptrap”. “Doesn’t he realise there’s work to be done?” Which brings me to point four.
People Want to Do A Good Job
I was so glad to see this stated explicitly in the Upworthy article. I worked in senior leadership positions in the Royal Navy and the Pub & Restaurant sector for 35 years. I’ve been running my own business for 4 years now. In gazillions of experiences of working with people over those years, I think I can count on the fingers of both hands the times I’ve encountered a person who deliberately set out to “crap up” everybody’s day. By and large people want to work, they want to do a good job. But there’s an inherent assumption in too many organisations that others (funny it’s always others…) are inherently lazy, and that time equals productivity. And so we come back to the need to change mindsets…
I’d encourage anyone that is really struggling to achieve a healthy balance between the different areas of their lives to begin by being brave, and taking a short period of time to step off the treadmill and reflect on what and who is really important to them. And I mean a short time - 10-20 minutes considering where you really want to be at 6.00 this evening would be a good start. In the office staring mindlessly at the screen, or shuffling paper around a desk until most people have left, or at home with the family, or enjoying the craic at Happy hour?
Denmark. Probably the best work-life balance model in the world.
I’ll drink to that. Slainte!