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?

Share your thoughts.

Let’s keep our discussions reflective, productive, and welcoming. Please follow our Community Guidelines and understand that we moderate comments and reserve the right to delete comments that don’t adhere to our guidelines. You must sign in or sign up to comment.
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  • Dave Bartell

    “Sucker Bet” by Tony Valentine for fun, diversion and laughter and “Mindfulness” by Joseph Goldstein for reflection and practice. I would also propose that there is no such thing as work/life balance. The metaphor itself suggests that one is always heavier than the other and, therefore, out of balance. Work is something we do while living (life). What if we began to look at this as career (work we do for money and fulfillment) and

  • Václav B.

    It is not all about ourselves but also about company’s culture. And the fish stinks from the head …

  • Nita V.Kapadia

    I was reading The Garden of Love , which is about The Mystical Symbolism in Layla Majnun and Gita Govinda.These are two very well known love stories.The common theme between the two is the mystical connection in terms of love between the soul and God.

  • Brian Magee

    Another book I am reading now is called Atomic Accidents: A history of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters, From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima by James Mahaffey.

  • Brian Magee

    A important book I read called “Everything I am not made me, Everything I am” by Jeff Johnson this book inspired me to be better and to do better in life. I hope that this book can help inspire allot of people in finding their inspiration as it did in me.

  • Hailey Nguyen

    I’m reading “The Power of Now” by Echkart Tolle and Your Life Matters by Petrea Kings

  • Karen

    Just finished “All the Light We Cannot See” — the high school community read book for our two girls. Currently reading “How to Raise An Adult” by Julie Lythcott-Haims. In addition to the continuing anecdotes re: helicopter parents, it gets to the heart of the outsized time demands placed on high school kids these days. The school/life balance is so difficult to achieve for our introverted kids. Seriously considering a school change for one.

  • Quiet Revolution

    Great picks, Nkemelue. Those aren’t your typical beach reads!

  • Michele

    Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, it’s about sharing vulnerability and the connection/transformation it creates.

    • Quiet Revolution

      We’re BIG fans of Brene and can’t wait for her new book next month!

    • Hailey Nguyen

      I love Brene Brown and her talks, Daring Greatly is on my ‘To-Read’ list!

  • karen surdenik

    I’m reading “All The Light We Cannot See”, and listening to “In The Plex” so different, both extremely good

    • Quiet Revolution

      Thanks for the book rec, Karen. We’ve heard amazing things about Doerr’s “All the Light We Cannot See.”

  • Alex Willging

    I’m rereading “The Story Solution” by Eric Edson, a fantastic book on screenwriting that uses “Hero Goal Sequences” to keep the audience engaged. Very helpful for someone trying to write a new manuscript.

  • Tricia

    The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey, new book by columnist Alan Guebert and Mary Grace Foxwell.

  • Right now I am reading Sam Harris’ “Waking up”. The book was with me during a particularly “slow going” day in hospital and helped me put “frustrations” and “silver linings” into perspective…

  • Cyndy Huntington

    Web of Debt by Ellen Brown.

  • Rich Day

    I am reading a book this week, about 3/4 through it, but to answer your specific question, what have I read that changed me this week? Made my life a little brighter? Challenged me? It was not the book, it was a few of the Quiet Revolutionaries stories. One in particular, but I’ve reread several. These are not novels but lives, not people I know, but still they invited me into their world through their story and there is such meaning there. The stories were the best thing I read this week.