General chatter - Work-life balance

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04-11-2014, 09:49 AM
Did anyone read about the new law in France that relieves workers of the obligation to answer digital communication after 6pm? In this article I read that the French work a 35-hr week and that in Sweden they are experimenting with reducing the work week to 30hrs. I think this is amazing and could use something similar in America. American people are overworked and underpaid in many cases, we are also not given or even encouraged to take our full vacation, and many people can't even afford to go on a vacation and thus termed the coin staycation. Overall we live in a society where productivity is valued more than any other ethical value and it's basically killing us. The rate of technology makes it even more easily accessible. I'm guilty of checking email while watching a movie or before I go to bed.

It's important for me to take measures to lessen my work-related stress and anxiety which is continusouly exacerbated by the rising cost of living and healthcare. I haven't taken a vacation in nearly 2yrs, not even a weekend getaway, and nobody sees anything wrong with that, I know people who haven't taken a vacation in longer than that. I practice chigong and mindfulness meditation, I spend time outside walking and exercising everyday, but unless I reduce my work load, put some real effort/funds into taking a vacation, and learn to enjoy my life more and feel less guilty about not being productive while I'm out doing something fun then nothing will really change.

So how do you balance your work and life? Do you feel like you have a fair chance at happiness and a good balance between work-to-love rather than live-to-work?

04-11-2014, 11:55 AM
Well I wouldn't say that the moves in France and Sweden are wholly altruistic. France has a high unemployment rate and a strong union presence. Sweden may be similar.

Workers in France (and I'd say most EU countries) also make less on average than Americans and cost of living is higher. On the flip side, they generally get better social services including medical coverage, paid maternity/paternity leave and retirement benefits. They often live in smaller places, have less stuff, less likely to have a car, use public transportation, etc. I'm not sure about France specifically but many EU countries provide workers with 6 weeks of vacation per year which is something unheard of in the US (except teachers).

I also wouldn't totally diss staycations, I know lots of people who have taken them, do take them for various reasons. I have a friend who takes a staycation day every year on her birthday because she just wants to self pamper. Usually, I take a staycation day the day after Thanksgiving. Depending on the weather, my husband and I may go hiking or we do something else. Plane travel is such a pain these days that I know a lot of people who rather just opt out which usually means a lot more local trips or yes the staycation.

I do agree with finding an overall work/life balance though. I think walks are good and I tend to take at least one walk during my work day. And I definitely take vacation time off. And I have to say, I'm building up to a major vacation trip in a couple weeks and it has been stressful in and of itself. I know once I get on the plane, I'll be able to relax but getting up to it is a pain but that is more my personality than anything :)

04-11-2014, 12:07 PM
I'm thankful that I learned from my own parents the importance of "switching off" when I get home from work. Neither of them worked after they got home for the day, though my dad would stay late as needed. I've incorporated those own values into my work life...granted, I am young, so maybe this will change as I get older and have more responsibility in my work, but I made a decision to not set up my work email on my phone (unless an employer requires it, which they haven't yet). Sometimes I will log into web mail when I know I need to check it, but rarely. I stay late as needed, but thankfully my employer is good about flex time.

I know not everyone can do that. And of course the stress still affects my personal life and I find that mental switch much more difficult to turn off, especially at bedtime when things are stressful! I've noticed working out helps with that some.

My bf and I go away on weekends when we can and turn our cell phones off - that helps me to recharge for sure!

I know I need to get in the habit of having lunch away from my desk, but that also means staying at work a half hour later.

I also treat myself with taking my birthday off. It's in early December which is always a busy time at work and in my personal life (we have SO many December bdays in my family). I relax, get some Christmas shopping done, and get away from the stress of end-of-year work.

04-11-2014, 12:11 PM
The US is seriously messed up in their thinking of work/life. And that awful Cadillac commercial just proved it:

That they thought this was a GOOD commercial is frightening.

I prefer this spoof - but it shouldn't be a spoof. Ford didn't make it, but they did endorse it:

04-11-2014, 12:16 PM
The US is seriously messed up in their thinking of work/life. And that awful Cadillac commercial just proved it:

That they thought this was a GOOD commercial is frightening.

I prefer this spoof - but it shouldn't be a spoof. Ford didn't make it, but they did endorse it:


04-11-2014, 12:21 PM
It depends on what your work is and what your goals are. I do believe the ideas of "DO WHAT YOU LOVE" and the unpaid internship set a lot of people up for disappointment, because a lot of people love things that do not make the big bucks.

If tremendous career success is your goal, then your work-nonworklife balance must favor work. My personal preference is to work in a field I find morally agreeable, at a dollar amount that pays the bills and a little more, and adjust my realistic expectations of life to fit that.

The US is a little obsessed with rags-to-riches and the idea that if you don't want to starve to death or want health care you have to EARN IT and PULL YOURSELF UP BY YOUR BOOTSTRAPS. People donate to charities in the same breath as yelling at homeless panhandlers to get a job. Our society is sick and compassion is lacking where it is most needed. This problem isn't unique to America by any measure, but it is quite pronounced here...

EDIT: berryblondeboys thanks I just threw up all over myself. GOOOOOODNESS does that ever affirm my "not owning a TV."

Where are you going nelie? I'm off to Utah soon for 2 weeks of hiking and reading Timothy Leary and Alan Watts in the middle of the desert with BF. =)

04-11-2014, 03:36 PM
The US is seriously messed up in their thinking of work/life. And that awful Cadillac commercial just proved it:

That they thought this was a GOOD commercial is frightening.

I prefer this spoof - but it shouldn't be a spoof. Ford didn't make it, but they did endorse it:

I completely agree, berryblondeboys! The values in the US are way off. I hate the Cadillac commercial.

I was a complete failure at work/life balance. I worked in Silicon Valley, where companies constantly lay off people and the cost of living is ridiculous. The mindset in most of the places I worked was that you can't work enough hours, especially with cell phones and email. The competition and backstabbing were out of control. If you took a vacation, you better hope that nothing goes wrong at the job while you are away.

It wasn't that I was so ambitious or wanted to be rich, I just wanted to make a living.

After too many years of that, I moved out of the area and started working in another field. The problems were the same.

After 25 years of a lot of stress and BS from terrible bosses and a few bad coworkers, I have retired. Unfortunately, all of those years took a toll. I am completely burned out and very depressed. Fortunately, I really liked my work. I am just hoping that I can get my old self back. I think that I can do that by helping others who are less fortunate. Volunteering for good causes will help bring balance back to my life.

04-11-2014, 03:42 PM
EDIT: berryblondeboys thanks I just threw up all over myself. GOOOOOODNESS does that ever affirm my "not owning a TV."

LOL... I don't watch TV almost ever, but I did watch the Olympics. It was on every five seconds through the Olympics. That and one where the babysitter upped her charges because if the family could afford a luxury mini van, they could afford to pay her more. Yes... another GREAT commercial.

Olympics ended - so did my TV watching save Cosmos -which we fast foward through commercials as we watch it next day.

04-11-2014, 03:47 PM
I realized I didn't close my thought above but long vacations and shorter work weeks in other countries not only goes along with the local philosophy but also helps with unemployment rates. If you need more work done, then you have to hire more workers rather than overwork your existing workers.

I will say I have some frustration with my company as they are laying off people but expecting more work to be done. I wish them luck with that.

Krampus, I'm going to Italy. Which reminds me, some of the things I've read indicate Italy moves slower than the US, so practice patience. I'm down with that.

I've wanted to go hiking in Utah but I haven't made it there yet. Someday.

04-11-2014, 07:34 PM
Yes nelie, that's what they call downsizing. Downsizing the work force buy not downsizing the workload. I know many people who work more hours, do more grueling work, get the same pay yet cost of living goes up.

Italy, fantastic! I love it there it's quite beautiful and good food everywhere. Count your lucky stars you eat carbs!

04-11-2014, 08:20 PM
Melissa that Cadillac advert is hilarious :D

I get 5.6 weeks paid holidays per year and always use them all, even if I'm just going to spend the time relaxing at home. I save up for holidays abroad, we go generally every second year, usually to Greece for 2 weeks. Holidays are important to me, I love travelling. My workplace has a policy where we must request our holiday days off for the year by a certain date, my boss is good at ensuring we get our requests in and we get all the time we are entitled to.

04-12-2014, 03:27 PM
I've never seen that commercial before...that was something else though....

For me, a lot of my views are shaped by my childhood/20s. Growing up very poor we never went on vacation. We never even went to a restaurant. Never. I started going out to eat in my early 20s when I was making my own $ to do so. And the same with vacations. So frankly I have no sympathy for people that haven't been away for years and years.


I do believe that away from work time is important. I just think people get spoiled in thinking it only counts if they are on an island or a ski resort somewhere. Away from work time can be going to a local park, watching movies with your kids or lazy days in bed. I think the key is are you able to unplug mentally from work to enjoy those moments?

It doesn't matter if you take a month off work and fly to the moon. If your mind is still thinking about work, obsessing, worrying, planning etc...then you never really left work anyway.

Work/ home balance is not about how long or how far you can get away from work. Its about how able you are to leave it at work. Unfortunately not all jobs allow that, but generally speaking.

04-14-2014, 07:18 PM
Well, I think France kind of takes it too far when they make it the law. You can't have second jobs there, either, because it takes away from work someone without a job could have. It makes it hard in France to ever get ahead.

Anyway, to your point: At my last job I had more problems with work life balance- I was working 50 hours a week minimum (usually more), my commute was 2-3 hours a day depending on conditions, and I worked in a place where people stabbed you in the back all the time. I finally saw the handwriting on the wall and left. My current job pays $10K a year less (but I had to work up to that- I started $30K a year less), I have a 10 minute commute, I almost never work overtime, and I'm valued instead of backstabbed.

Sometimes changing companies is the way to go.