Work Life Balance – Is it a Myth?


It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. You may remember me from some great discussion (and threat) generating things I’ve posted before. I’ve had this nagging thought in the back of my mind that it was possibly time to write something again, and I promise that I have really really meant to. I just haven’t. Why? I’ve been too busy.


Yes, there is the saying “you have as many hours in the day as BeyoncĂ©”. But I also have the same amount of hours in the day as my cat. And she doesn’t get a lot done, that I can tell you. I’ve waxed lyrical about the real meaning of having a work life balance for the last couple of years but until recently I haven’t actually been practising what I preach. I hadn’t even had a proper lunch break in 5 months until recently.

Without making excuses – We’ve been really busy at work, I’ve helped to grow the business I work for several times over. And that was a heck of a lot of recruitment and quite a number of hours spent in the office on the phone, interviewing, referencing, preparing contracts etc. But somehow in all the fun and excitement I really lost touch with what I wanted to do, and what I enjoyed doing. I’d even started turning down an after work dinner or drink invitation because I knew I couldn’t make it as I would still be at work! So this work / life balance drum I had been beating was really just a crock of ****. Or perhaps I’ll call it a myth as my Mum reads this blog….

A few weeks ago I attended the HRINZ Recruitment SIG on Mindfulness. I can say it wasn’t really my cup of tea. I mean, the presenter asked us to not check or touch our phones for 30 minutes – how the heck was I going to tweet and answer emails?! It almost put me into a cold sweat. A little later we were put into small groups and told to talk about what we did to relax. I was in a group with 2 couscous muffin eating, vegan, yoga lovers who only wore organic cotton clothing and I felt extremely out of place. Here were people saying they mediated at lunchtime in a quiet room! I walked away thinking, well that was a bit of a waste – at least there was a free glass of wine! However, a few days later after reflecting on it and re-reading the quick quiz we had taken it dawned on me. I never stop. Ever. I sat down and thought about it and realised I was pulling well over a 50 hour week (even over a 60 hour week) with little to no breaks, eating lunch at my desk and even when I wasn’t at work I was still connected to my phone and not stopping. Once I was home I was still go go go organising my life, the gym, the household and I never took time out to do what I loved and actually enjoyed doing. Recruiters are notorious for it – and working on a contingency basis most of the time in agency land really set me up to constantly have to work hard and long hours – sometimes for little or no return (that’s a blog for another day).

I did a test, while not all around mindfulness it was more around my work life balance and the way in which I was working. In my test week I worked a semi normal work week and I took breaks every day. The first day I managed only just 15 minutes away from my desk, but I increased every day. It was amazing the difference. By just being a little more disciplined with myself and stopping, stretching and then returning to work I’m more productive and get more done. I even find I’m more approachable and enjoy my work a lot more (don’t worry boss if you’re reading this – I never stopped enjoying it!). Now I’m up to 30 minutes every day away from my desk at lunch time which I feel is pretty decent and about right. I’ve even managed a few lunch time Pilates sessions and boxing work outs. I now turn off my emails after 7pm and take time at the end of the day to relax away from electronics which now includes reading fiction books (something I really enjoy). I’ve even had the disc I slipped in my back come completely right – something that has been bugging me for months. On my weekends I try to limit the time I spend on my phone and I have picked up the running bug again. If you’ve never tried running or think it’s just for skinny fit things I encourage you to read “Run Fat Bitch Run” by Ruth Field – it will change your life.

Now I am going to challenge you (especially you recruiters) – take a break.

You’ll feel so much better for it and strangely you’ll be more productive too. I’d love to hear how you get on.