Earlier in my blogging career I wrote a work life balance post titled Are There Enough Hours In The Day? It turned out there wasn’t and probably still isn’t. Not the answer we were all looking for. So I’m back, and instead of asking ‘are there enough hours in the day?’, I’m kind of asking ‘do we have enough days off in the year’?
If you want to get up to speed on the old work-life balance argument, check out this TED talk video by Nigel Marsh. He really hammers the point home.
Work-Life Balance: Do we have enough days off?
So, one argument against my first post is the time frame I considered. Nigel Marsh even mentions the importance of considering the right time frame. Maybe we’ll never achieve a perfect work-life balance during the working week, but the weekends make up for it, right?
Personally, I think that is bollocks. If we’re not striving for perfection what are we striving for? If we’re willing to accept anything, where will we draw the line? If we’re always waiting for the next weekend, the next holiday, are we just wasting our precious time in between? HOWEVER, with the possibility of raising some interesting questions by reviewing work life balance over a year, I’m going to take a look.
By the way, here’s a SPOILER ALERT. I don’t actually have the answers, I’m not even claiming to be close to them. I do however have some VERY thought provoking questions.
The Average Year
Total days: 365 days (obvs)
Weekends: 104 days (2 days x 52 weeks)
Bank holidays: 8 days
Holiday allowance: 25 days
Days at work: 228 days (365 – ((104+8+25))
Total days away from work: 137 days Total days at work: 228 days
Disclaimer: 1. Obviously, your particular circumstances could differ to the numbers above. 2. As far as I know the maths are correct. 3. In case someone says ‘I really like work so I don’t mind being there all the time’, the enjoyment of work has no influence on the numbers above in my opinion. I like watching football, but if you ask me to watch it for 228 days a year, it would not be considered balanced or healthy.
Where the fuck do days off go?
If you ignore the fact we are at work for 62.5% of the year, 137 days away from work sounds like a lot. A heck of a lot. So why does it feel like we are ALWAYS struggling to find time away from the office? Maybe because we can actually only control our 25 days holiday allowance. The rest of the 137 days are made up of bank holidays and weekends, which are decided for us. So out of the 365 days in a year, we only control 6.9% of them. DEPRESSING.
Maybe the monotony of the weekend means we appreciate it less. Maybe two days off in a row is not considered sufficient enough to do anything meaningful. If I look back on my year, I can remember almost all of my holiday allowance but very few of my weekends.
Just IMAGINE if we controlled EVERYTHING. Even if the total days at work remained the same, it would still open up a world of possibilities. For example, If you worked 6 days a week for 38 weeks, you could have the rest of the year off. FOURTEEN WEEKS OFF. Alternatively, for every 3 months you work 6 days a week, you could have one month off at the end of it.
HANG ON, where’s the work-life balance in working 6 days a week? Remember, we are now judging the balance over the course of a whole year, not a day, not a week. So yeah, working 6 days a week would be tough, BUT the long stretches of time off would be oh so sweet. And that is just one idea to improve balance over the course of the year. There are many more out there.
Do we have enough days off?
YES and NO. The days off are there, but they’re not being managed effectively. The short bursts of time off are being lost amongst the sea of days at work. Can we fix it? YES. ‘The small things matter. Being more balanced doesn’t mean dramatic upheaval in your life’.