All work and no play…

We’ve touched on the elusive work/life balance before… And I can tell you now that it’s unlikely that I’ll be making any glorious revelations in this post (so if you’re searching for answers, you can pretty much stop reading now – actually that’s not entirely true. There’s a wee surprise in there somewhere).

It strikes me though, that just about everyone I know, has trouble living the life they really want. Not, that everyone I know is grossly unhappy, don’t get me wrong. But it does seem like we’re all over-worked.

Whether we work for large multi-nationals, or small family run businesses, part time or full time, big boss man or shop floor; the recurring theme seems to be that our employers want so much from us… Too much.

My beloved, normally a night owl who comes to life around the witching hour, took to his bed at 7:30 this evening complaining of feeling cold and tired ( you should know that our house is like Miami 24/7/365 because I don’t believe in putting a jumper on). I myself had a cold recently for a full 2 weeks followed by laryngitis! And we’re not the only ones! It could just be that the autumn is turning to winter and there’s a lot of little bugs going around. But, you have to trust your Mum and mine would say “you’re run down”. Yeah, run down because we work so hard.

I just did a reccie on t’internet to find some evidence to support my overworked theory. Expecting to come up trumps, I came across an article in the Guardian newspaper from March of this year which, shock horror!, completely disproves it.

The Fourth European Working Conditions Survey, 2007 (approximately 30,000 people questioned in 31 countries) tells us that Turkey has the
longest hours worked in Europe (54 hours per week). The UK comes in at number 29 working on average 35 hours per week. The EU average is 39 hours per week. We do apparently, come in at number 1 for most hours worked during weekends and evenings, though, due to the fact that most of us work in Service industries now, as opposed to manufacturing.

I personally work hours closer to the EU average than the UK average and most of my girlfriends who work 4 days per week to spend more time with their kids still end up working the “average” 35 hours in a shorter period of time.

But, am I alone in thinking that 39 hours is too much? And in reality it’s more than that, when you’re only break is to walk to the coffee machine and you eat lunch at your desk every day ( even if you are spending that time updating your facebook status and doing some Christmas shopping online). Then you have to load in the commute and suddenly you find that you have about 3 hours at home in the evenings before you go to bed and then get up and do it all again.

So, am I just lazy? Or are we indeed working too hard? Maybe it’s what we do or don’t do with our non-working time that makes us feel that we never get a break… Or maybe life has always been hard and we just need to pull our socks up and get on with it!

Still, I can’t help thinking… Sitting in my (not too) small Gite in the South of France, writing my blog for a living in between pottery making and yoga and still having time to bake fresh bread and cakes every day would be much nicer than dragging myself in and out of the office every day for the next 30 years… Too much to ask? Or too high expectations? Maybe that’s the problem.

Someone once said “find a job that you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”. I’m not sure that my Bank Manager would agree!

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One thought on “All work and no play…

  1. it’s nice to see someone else who has the same types of dreams that I have when it comes to a relaxing life in a country house in France with nothing but good food (and wine maybe) but instead finding they don’t have enough time to live your life. Surely we shouldn’t work the life out of our body!

    On most weeks I work 44 hours per week in a 4 day period, with 4 days off (yes, some weeks I only work 33 hours in a week, but again that’s in a 3 day period). I think the fact that I get 4 “Rest” days in between, it gives many people the illusion that I get amazing free time, but when you work that amount of hours in a short space of time, your free time is taken up with letting your body recover first, then when you are about to start working again, you are getting your body ready to take the impact again.

    I have recently tried to find better things to fill my “free” time with, things I am hoping will one day lead me to my dreams. I’ve tried to learn about the self sufficiency side of life, and now grow vegetables and have a few hens for eggs. These things come with their own workload, but for some reason mucking out the crap from the hen house, or weeding or double digging the ground, all feel like pleasurable chores. I also sing in a pub band and have a potential to make some money from that too. Again, it can be a long night, singing for 3 or 4 hours. But it’s a nice chore.

    I have also had jobs in the past in which it was a pleasure to work in the environment. That was in a less “cut-throat” economy in which we could all relax a little and not worry so much about how tight our budgets were and the risk of us being sacked for not meeting every ridiculous target set. Now, things have changed. perhaps this is why we are so stressed and failing in our work/life balance.

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