Opinion

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Do you live to work or work to live?

4 Mins

More importantly those 40 years are the ones when you marry, bring up a family and do most of the quality “living” of your life. So perhaps we should focus on that period: 9,000 days actually represents 62 per cent of your time during that window.

Let’s analyse the “family” time: in the 40-year window you may have approximately 5,500 days free. If you’re lucky enough to get eight hours’ sleep on average, then of these days the equivalent of around 1,700 days are spent asleep. So that leaves you 3,800 days or 10.4 years to spend time with friends and family – 10/40 or 25 per cent of your available time – focusses the mind doesn’t it!

Before I put the calculator away let’s have some fun. If you make a few assumptions and ask some questions about the quality of your working day you find that over your entire career you might spend:

  • 750 days commuting (based on a one-hour commute);
  • 375 days having lunch (assuming one hour a day);
  • 375 days chatting to colleagues on non-work issues (this is possibly conservative); and
  • 375 days struggling with IT problems (again, probably an under estimate)

There are a number of serious points to make here of course around work-life balance, around flexible working and around extracting the maximum benefit from your working day.

Work-life balance

Do you live to work or work to live? In the end it doesn’t matter, if you have a family you have an obligation to dedicate a significant proportion of your time to those people and probably more to the point, to make that time of a high “quality”. We have to learn to put down the phone and pay full attention to those around us. It is truly hard to switch off at the end of a working day but it is something that we all must continually strive to get better at not only for the sake of our family but also, frankly, for our own well-being.

The stress of day-to-day life actually is manifest in your face because your facial muscles tense as a consequence. Sleep deprivation, from most nights at less than the full eight hours also contributes to your “look”. If you have ever taken a two week, get-away-from-it-all holiday where you were able to truly forget your work you will have noticed the relaxation return to your face and the bags disappear from under your eyes. You had reached a rare state of relaxation and – in my experience – find that you are able to sleep/nap at any time of the day.

Regular exercise is very useful in the search for the correct balance and has been proven to help in the tolerance of stress. In the final analysis, the quality of your work will almost certainly improve if you strike the correct balance so look at it in that way if it helps combat any sense of guilt that you may develop.

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