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The Truth About Work/Life Balance

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The Truth About Work/Life Balance

In recent weeks, various politicians in Great Britain and elsewhere have suddenly discovered the importance of work/life balance. It’s hard not to feel cynical. When politicians jump on an issue, you can usually be certain it’s something they think will win them credit with jaded voters. The media have also been turning the issue into a bandwagon, with articles in newspapers and magazines from Los Angeles to Kuala Lumpur.

What all these “conversions” have in common is a superficial view of work/life balance — one that limits it to neat, structural issues like flexible working hours and support for working women bringing up families. Rather than look closely at the real reasons why people are feeling disillusioned with working life (the long hours, constant overwork, increasing pressure, bullying bosses, continual restructuring and cutbacks), they turn to feel-good ideas that don’t need them to alter their attitudes or question past decisions. (Don’t get me wrong. These are important issues that badly need attention, but they don’t get near the fundamental questions of true work/life balance.)

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It’s depressingly predictable. Remember when organizations jumped on the “let’s have a compelling corporate vision” bandwagon? And how that became little more than grand-sounding words, composed by committee and posted on the wall of the lobby? It’s the same with work/life balance. Too many organizations are going through the motions of tackling the issues, delegating it to the HR department and pointing to nice, shiny-new policy statements, instead of instituting significant change.

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Problems with the balance between the demands of profit-driven corporations and peoples’ need to live a satisfying life won’t be cured by policy statements and procedure manuals. That isn’t where the causes lie. They’re inside peoples’ heads: obsessive achievement drive, ambition gone mad, laughable greed for money and power, and blithe disregard of anything not linked to short-term results. Macho, “grab ‘n go” bosses don’t treat underlings like cattle to be milked of every ounce of effort because they’ve selected incorrect HR policies. They do it because they have dysfunctional values and massively over-inflated egos.

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Work/life balance is an issue of civilization. It’s driven by simplistic, financially-derived goals, an unthinking ideology of “winner takes all,” and contempt for those unable to keep up. It’s the result of achievement motivation run wild. Until executives (and wannabe executives) realize they’ve created a monster that’s out of control — one that will eventually devour their lives and health too — no amount of policy-writing will make any difference.

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Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman and a retired business executive. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his serious thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership; and his crazier ones at The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on July 12, 2021

Lifehack Reviews: 50 Best Life Hacks for Your Life

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Lifehack Reviews: 50 Best Life Hacks for Your Life

Do you want to be as productive as many of us, but missed a lot of actions at lifehack.org during the year? We’ve selected the best 50 life hacks, based on their popularity and contents in different categories. Invest your time – read them. Bookmark this page and mark reading them as one of your new year resolutions.

Communication, Writing, Studying

  1. My Best Presentation Tricks
  2. The Business Card Game
  3. Persuasive Writing for Students, Webmasters, Bloggers, and Everyone Else
  4. 7 tips of handling your Emails without feeling overwhelmed
  5. Writing as a Form of Self Healing
  6. Advice for students: Writing by hand
  7. Yes, But Do People Like You?
  8. Writing – Just do it!
  9. A good place to study
  10. Blog your way through Writer’s Block
  11. 14 Tips for Communicating Ideas

Productivity, Creativity, Motivation

  1. 9 Top Secrets of Naturally Born Organizers
  2. Fight The Flab!
  3. More Fight The Flab!
  4. Limit Creativity, Get Innovation
  5. Precious Moments
  6. 5 Ways to Improve Your Productivity in the Office
  7. A Geek’s Best Lifehack
  8. What Kind of Paranoid Are You?
  9. Being A Creative
  10. There’s No Time!
  11. The Mysteries Behind Motivation and How To Manipulate Them
  12. Time Management: Handling Disruptions in Daily Schedules
  13. Productivity Hack: Write Mini Process Flows
  14. Design an Online Workflow

Management, Self-Management, Entrepreneurship

  1. Bare Bones Project Hacks
  2. The 10 Beliefs of Great Managers
  3. The Simplest Path to Success
  4. Letting Things Go
  5. Closet Entrepreneur
  6. Time To Discard The Portmanteau
  7. 5 Important Keys to Bootstrap Your Entrepreneurship
  8. The Most Underutilized Tool for Effective Communication
  9. Everyday Performance Reviews
  10. Meetings, @&!!$*@ Meetings!
  11. What Are You Worried About?
  12. How to Ruin Your Career In Five Easy Steps

Procrastination, Goal Settings, Life

  1. 9 Steps to Define your Goal Destination and Devise a Plan to Get There
  2. Pro-Active Steps to Prevent Procrastination
  3. Improve Your Life By Following A Schedule
  4. The Causes of Procrastination And How To Conquer Them
  5. How To Make Resolutions You’ll Keep
  6. Literal Life Hack: Cut your window of time in half
  7. New Year’s Resolutions and Deficit Thinking
  8. 6 Sleep Tips
  9. Risks versus Rewards Worksheet
  10. 5 Tips for Getting Out of Debt (and Why)
  11. Deep Breathing: A Great Health Trick
  12. 8 Expenses to Cut and How
  13. Desk-side Fitness

Are there any lifehacks that you’ve learned over the past year?

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Featured photo credit: Rainier Ridao via unsplash.com

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