What We’re Reading: Work/Life Balance and the Myth of the 80-Hour Week

As usual, we’ve been reading stuff this week. Good stuff, bad stuff, and everything in between. Luckily for you, we’re only sharing the best gems.

For some reason, this week we were on a work and productivity kick (not a bad kick to be on, of course) and read a truckload of great stuff in the vein.

Do you find yourself moaning about your 80-hour weeks? You’re not alone. Too many of us are overly invested in our careers. We’ve fallen for the belief that the more hours we put in (and the more we sacrifice of our personal life), the higher we’ll rise. Fortunately, research is on hand that shows that work/life balance doesn’t just help your life—it also helps your work. Check out The Case For Scheduling “Me Time” Into Your Workday, Everyday:

“While you definitely need to compromise when it comes to structuring your days, odds are high that you’re probably letting other people dictate what you do and when you do it. We know it’s tempting to sacrifice your “me” time to prove that you’re a go-getter who never needs a break, but Happify’s study shows that having more free time actually leads to a better work-life balance and, consequently, more engagement at the office.”

So head out the door for a calming walk, and while you’re out there, listen to this Harvard Business Review piece exploring the fascinating phenomenon of Why We Claim to Be Workaholics. Spoiler: You don’t have to work 80 hours a week to be on top of your game—but it might still be a good idea to act as if you do. As our own Kelly O’Laughlin discovered, the counterintuitive secret to a long and happy work life starts, surprisingly, with caring less.

If you are a true aficionado, itching for even more, check out the great new book by Laura Vanderkam, I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time. Despite its title, the book is not just for women, and it will change your perspective on the time you have in a week. (According to some experts, you have 30 hours of leisure time. Yes, you read that right).

“I write about the good life through the lens of time, because a life is lived in hours. What you do with your life will be a function of how you spend the 8,760 hours that make a year, the 700,000 or so that make a life: at strawberry farms, rocking toddlers to sleep, and pursuing work that alters at least some corner of the universe.” — Laura Vanderkam

The good news for those often told to limit their aspirations is that the box will hold all these things. It can hold all these things and more.

Remember that office workers aren’t the only folks who need “me time.” Parents do too, as our contributor Brian Gresko shares:

“If you as an introvert hold yourself up to the standard set by our attachment-focused culture, you might end up feeling that something is wrong with you, that you don’t love your kids as much as you should, or that you’re somehow failing at parenting. You’re not. You need to establish a relationship with your children that is right for you.”

And while you’re rightfully claiming time for yourself, don’t forget a vacation this summer. This National Geographic piece will remind you why the vanishing vacation is one of the worst things to hit our modern work world. Here is an excerpt from the article:

“A study earlier this year (C. Fritz, S. Sonnentag) showed how vacations boost energy reserves so that you need less effort to get work done when you return. Self-reported job performance is “significantly higher after a vacation,” notes respite expert Dov Eden of the University of Tel Aviv. Counter to the prevailing bravado myth, productivity is not a function of how long or torturously you work. In the knowledge economy, the source of true productivity is a refreshed and energized mind.”

With that in mind, we refreshed ourselves with a couple of laughs. Just take a look at the 23 Struggles of Being an Extrovert Dating an Introvert, for example. And at this baby goat dressed as a sunflower. Who doesn’t love a baby goat dressed as a sunflower?

 

 

Finally, we loved us some good quotes. This one, for instance:

“True heroism is minutes, hours, weeks, year upon year of the quiet, precise, judicious exercise of probity and care—with no one there to see or cheer. This is the world.” — David Foster Wallace

What did you read this week that made everything seem a little brighter?

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