Want a 31-hour work week, move to Paris!
The definition of what is work and what is personal, along with the line between them, has become blurred for some and old news for others. Work is a part of life – 46 hours of life, for those who live and work in America. And that is the key, to make work a part of life – not your whole life.
We were designed for work of a different sort, to glorify the Father and enjoy Him forever. For many Americans, however, work seems to be more about glorifying self and enjoying the fruits that satisfy our worldly desires. But this seems to just fuel a desire for more.
In addition, there is a great deal of noise pulling our ears and feet in many different directions. Unlike previous generations, we see the rise of competition and workload that’s eating into our life outside of the office. How does one respond to emails, voicemails, text messages, tweets, likes, social media and so many other distractions and still do life? The office can find the employee 24/7.
No wonder we constantly exclaim “I’m busy. I just don’t have enough time!” Time to answer the cell phone, time to answer those text messages and email messages, time to care for the family, time to do the other fifty million work scheduled items we try to balance life with. And it truly is impossible for those for whom work and life are two separate times.
But for those who have figured out that “we are His workmanship,” and we’re just doing the work He has designed us and called us to do, it’s much less stressful and less demanding. Why? It isn’t work at all – it’s who we are and what we do.
This is what can happen when we center our schedule and lives around something and Someone greater. A greater purpose for our existence and time. Who we are does not switch on or off day to day. We don’t compartmentalize who we are Sunday and then turn another switch on Monday through Friday.
To do this requires a bit of self-assessment: we must focus on what we are really trying to accomplish, and then determine if our current actions truly do contribute to meeting those goals. Rather than listing separate work, personal and spiritual goals, think about how they go hand-in-hand. Instead of a goal of “earning XYZ salary,” think holistically about supporting your family’s needs. This includes income, most certainly, but it also includes being there for important events, and being the spiritual leader your family needs. I think this is key and is something I am advocating parents and leaders incorporate into their lives this year. There are a lot of things pulling at our schedules, so there has to be an emphasis on focus so activities can be pared down to the items that truly pertain to achieving our goals.
In addition, we must remember God’s prescription for balance: Six days of work and one day of rest is God’s example and command. Even scientific studies highlight the physical stress indicators that are caused by working seven days a week with no day of rest. We must set our schedule to where there are no more than six days of work and one day of rest, or we’ll face the many physical and mental health issues that come by not doing so.
For a practical implementation of this guideline, I suggest a “no phone or computer day” one day each week. I also recommend putting the phone and computer down for one hour each day to ensure we are connecting with our families the way we desire.
When we can reach the point where our work is just part of who we are – not the whole – and the means to reaching the best ends for ourselves and our families, we will have the proper perspective and will be able to achieve that elusive work/life balance.