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Maybe Work-life Balance Does Not Exist and It's Okay

Updated: Oct 18, 2019

by Emlynne Tham. |

Gone are the days of 9-5, where workers pack their bags at 4:50PM, exit the door at 5PM sharp and merrily skip their way home. Today, we bid farewell to our office tables at 7PM, get stuck in an hour’s worth of rush hour traffic, grab a double cheeseburger at the highway drive-thru and arrive home slightly under 9. How lovely it would be if we were free to do whatever we wanted before the sun went down? Imagine a life where you could ciao your workstation at 3, go lepak with your friends over some afternoon tea, go home and cook a legit dinner with your significant other that isn’t derived from the frozen food section and then snuggle up to a Netflix marathon without the impending fear of sleep deprivation???

Sadly many of us can’t say we own such a life and the reality is that the majority of today’s workers have become accustomed to a 10-hour working day. Work-life balance appears to be a dream placed so far out of reach, its existence could be considered almost mythical. The truth is, having work-life balance essentially means a 50-50 divide between our time spent at work and our time spent doing whatever on earth we want. But let’s do the math here. If we’re asleep for 8 hours a night, spend 1 hour in traffic getting to work, work for 9 hours a day and get stuck in 1 hour of traffic on the way home, that only leaves you with 4-5 hours of “life” time.

Work-life balance? It doesn't really exist. BUT THAT’S OKAY!

If work-life balance really were to exist, we would only be at work for a meager amount of time, and as much as that sounds amazing, it simply wouldn’t be practical. Say a company does decide to do a 9-3 stint, on paper all looks well, but that doesn’t change the amount of work you’d be required to complete. In fact, fewer hours in the office would mean less time to finish up copious amounts of work – the same mountain of files you have stacked on your desk, but with far less time….. and let’s not even get started on the extra stress!! At the end of the day, yes, you’ll get to go home earlier or head to a cosy café, but you’ll still be engaged in nothing less than the work you would usually be doing in the office.

A similar concept would be how corporations have in recent years come up with policies that promote work-life balance such as flexible working hours, one day to work from home etc. But the work never stops, and many of us don’t seem to put these benefits into practice because we simply don’t have enough time. I mean, how many of us can actually say we use up all our annual leave anyway?

The harsh reality is that it’s 2019, and no matter how hard we try to make work-life balance a thing of the present, it simply won’t happen the way you want it to be. Despite this devastating news, there is hope. Just because a 50-50 work-life balance doesn’t explicitly exist in today’s era, it doesn’t mean a 70-30 doesn’t! Yes, 30% doesn’t sound like much time in a day to live life, but its better than nothing. The best you can do is make the most out of the time that has been given to you.

We know how easy it is to just get home, get in the shower and get into bed! But let’s be real, that period between 9-11PM is spent entirely scrolling through Instagram anyway! If you’re done in the office at 6PM, that’s still 5 hours to DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY! Be it a HIIT class, a dinner with friends or even just a popcorn movie night with the fam, sleep earlier and spend those hours after work doing things that matter to you.

And if your main struggle is dealing with the copious amounts of work pilled under your name, why not work on being extra productive so you can leave the office on time? One trick I find to be extremely effective is listing down all my target tasks for the day. All you need to do is decide what needs to be done, jot down each task with a specific time frame allotted (i.e. complete financial report (2pm – 3pm) and get to work! That way, you’re organized, constantly kept in check with deadlines, and when you find yourself finishing any task early, take a break and have a water cooler conversation.

At the end of the day, we wouldn’t want to have too much time in our hands either. Having the luxury of time reduces its overall value. With the little time we get after a whole day in the office, take the opportunity to live life. Until the world slows down and the world stops revolving around money, work-life balance is a dream so far away. But hey, we hope you now know, that that’s completely okay.

You may find out more about Emlynne on her Instagram too.

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