On work/life bal­ance.


GQ (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

A re­cent re­port from think tank The Aus­tralia In­sti­tute found that, on av­er­age, full-time Aus­tralian em­ploy­ees are work­ing six hours of un­paid over­time a week – that equates to $9471 a year per em­ployee and a stag­ger­ing $110bn, across the work­force, in free an­nual labour. But, as an acute pro­fes­sional with an eye on fu­ture suc­cess – you’re al­ready aware that cur­rent de­mands mean slug­ging it out for longer, and of­ten for lit­tle-to-no-re­ward, to get ahead. So, the no­tion of work/life bal­ance. Seek­ing a sem­blance of equal­ity be­tween pro­fes­sional and per­sonal spheres is, in the­ory, a valu­able propo­si­tion, but what’s the re­al­ity of such to­day? Is it at­tain­able for some­one ea­ger to as­cend the cor­po­rate lad­der? Ac­cord­ing to Bouris, Aus­tralians need to ac­cept the fact longer work­ing hours are not about to di­min­ish and that the so-called ‘work/life bal­ance’ comes down to a sim­ple, pro­fes­sional choice made early in one’s ca­reer. It’s a good ideal, but the ques­tion you have to ask is this – do I want to com­pete with the other peo­ple, those who don’t have this bal­ance and who are achiev­ing ex­tra­or­di­nary things? If that’s the game you want to play – to com­pete – then you have to be pre­pared to sac­ri­fce work/life bal­ance. End of story. This doesn’t mean many of us don’t want it, cer­tainly in years to come we’ll want it, but you need to make that choice and once you’ve done that, don’t fuck­ing com­plain about it. Be­fore you make that choice, though, talk it through with your part­ner, your fam­ily, who­ever it is. You don’t want to be that per­son who hasn’t dis­cussed the process of the de­ci­sion to those you’re re­spon­si­ble to in a per­sonal sense – gen­er­ally speak­ing, fam­ily. And they need to un­der­stand the risk here. Make it clear to your part­ner – crys­tal clear – so that they don’t then com­plain. Be­cause you can’t try to achieve great things, and com­pete with peo­ple who are all about work, only to have some­one con­tin­u­ally pulling at the heart­strings about be­ing home, about not hav­ing an Audi, about not be­ing able to have a hol­i­day in Port Dou­glas like the neigh­bours. All that will do is de­stroy you emo­tion­ally – which isn’t fair. Maybe sell it this way. Make it clear, in the ini­tial con­ver­sa­tion, that you’ll try to take time off when­ever you can, or, al­ter­na­tively, pitch it as a fve-year plan – you’ll reeval­u­ate things at that time and maybe by then you’ll have sold the busi­ness or be in a po­si­tion to take time, but for now you need to con­cen­trate on it, full-time, for that pe­riod. My other point is Aus­tralians need to suck it up – you’re all go­ing to be work­ing longer and harder any­way. So wear it. The bot­tom line is we com­pete not just in Aus­tralia, but in­ter­na­tion­ally, and the rules of the global game are such that peo­ple in In­dia, China, the Philip­pines, wher­ever, are work­ing seven days a week. As a re­sult, we have to be pre­pared to work longer and harder, and for less money. Fail­ing this, our jobs be­come re­dun­dant – so you either be­come more in­no­va­tive, smarter and more pro­duc­tive per hour, or you work longer hours to pro­duce more. Ul­ti­mately, we have to be­come ma­chines, it’s not nec­es­sar­ily a good thing but that’s where we’re headed – and we’re com­pet­ing against ro­bots too. How I work is to do things in chunks, or blocks. The Ap­pren­tice, for ex­am­ple, meant I didn’t have a break, not once, for two months: it’s ev­ery day, seven days a week. On top of that I had my busi­nesses and the re­port­ing pe­riod. I was bloody busy, but I knew I would be and I ‘chun­ked’ it out, every­thing else went by the way­side – friends, fam­ily, leisure, plea­sure. When I’m in the mid­dle of some­thing like that, I don’t say that I need to take ev­ery sec­ond Fri­day for my­self or to spend time with whomever – that’s not prac­ti­cal and it’s not the way I work. Then, know­ing I need a break, I’ll take a pe­riod of time off – like I did last month. I try to av­er­age my hol­i­days over a cal­en­dar year and then I’m al­ways ret­ro­spec­tively back flling with work. You must do that, oth­er­wise you’ll have a breakdown. For more straight up busi­ness and pro­fes­sional ad­vice, catch Bouris’ weekly pod­cast at mark­bouris.com.au

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