Sunday, January 6, 2013

Work / life balance

Why do we work? To make money, to contribute, to find purpose are all reasons that we would hear. I think a colleague of mine stated it best, "we work to improve our personal lives." There are those that work for the sake of work (work is everything) whom I feel sorry for, them and their family (if they have managed to hold on to), but this [improve my personal life] is the reason that I go to work and do my best everyday.

The challenge / problem for some is that they have failed to draw a line in terms of when they will work and when they will stop working, each day / each week.

Parkinson's law:
Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

To state more succinctly:

The amount of time which one has to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete the task.

The reality is that if we have clear goals, putting limits on the amount of time that we allocate to achieve those goals will result in enhanced productivity. We will get the work complete, and have more time for our personal life. We can determine the deadline to complete the work. For example: a project that must be completed by Monday morning could be completed by Friday night at six if we so choose. 

Outlined in the book "Start with Why" by Simon Sinek, a construction company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana actually measures work life balance: employees are required to clock in between 8:00 – 8:30 a.m. and clock out between 5:00 – 5:30pm. Stay any later and they are taken out of a bonus pool. Because they know they have to leave by 5:30 p.m. wasted time has dropped to a minimum. Productivity is high and turnover is low.

Decide when you will start / stop work and which days you will work. Make these restrictions to time dedicated to work a personal commitment to yourself. Most importantly, don't break that commitment. If you break commitments to yourself, it becomes easier to break commitments to others. How you do anything - is how you do everything.

Ultimately, the issue is rooted in our values and we are choosing to cheat. We cheat either our time at work or time with our family.


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