When I was in school, I used to come to Pune during holidays to my grandfather’s house. He had perfect Work-Life balance in those days. He retired before I was born. But from what I have heard, he used to go to office around 9 and be back home by 4.30. He was one of the luckier persons who had a steady job. When I started going to Pune, he had just started his retired life and would go to sleep by 7 in the evening and wake up at 4! Before going to sleep he used to listen to local news on radio, which would start at 7 pm. All others at home would have dinner by 8 pm and simply go to sleep by 8.30 pm. Cozy life, lovely life; there was nothing to do anyway. There was no TV, going for movies was rarity.
This reminds me of Gulzarji’s lines
अब दिन रातपे ही आके रुकता है
मुझे याद है…
पहले एक शाम भी हुआ करती थी
Lifestyle has taken a tumble of 180 degrees since those days. Things have reached the other extreme, discussions have started on Work-life balance, which is a concept that supports the efforts of employees to split their time and energy between work and the other important aspects of their lives. Why has this imbalance come in our life? Who is responsible? Do managements expect too much from employees? Is work being done with the help of less number of people? On home front, families have become nuclear, both husband and wife are working, and it has become a norm. There is less support system available from elderly. We have too many commitments on social front, too much time is “productively” spent on social media.
Times have changed, work pressure on individuals has gone up. Pressure to perform is nothing new, it was always there and it will be always there. Why does the imbalance take place? It is simply because we have 24 hours in a day to do so many things. It is how productively we use that time which is important.
First and foremost is the travel time. Home to workplace travel time is the most unproductive and tiring time. People these days travel anything between one to 2 ½ hours one way, to work. Traffic is going to become more complex and heavy, so there may not be respite from traffic. But yes, there is a solution. When people take up a new job in a different city, they rent a house as near to work place as possible. But in your own city you probably own a house or have been living in an area from childhood. So, you don’t want to change the house. Solution, cut the emotion, be a little open minded about shifting to stay near the work place, be pragmatic. I was talking about this issue with my young friend Abhay.
Abhay rues that his generation has all the material stuff but no time to enjoy it. He said that if he moves to stay near his work place, he will save two hours every day! Multiply by 250 days. 500 hrs a year. It is as good as getting 50 days of additional leave to be with the family, maybe hit the gym, which today is not possible today. I told Abhay, after shifting near office, don’t spend additional two hours at office. Deepti wanted to take a new office. I suggested to her that it should not be more than 3 kms from her home, she had that option. Now her total travel time is 15 minutes. Hours gained, anxiety reduced? I don’t think you need any consultant to evaluate value addition done by making these changes. If you have financial need, rent out the “owned” flat.
Now about the most unproductive thing! Social media. FB and WA are the biggest culprits causing the imbalance. Everybody wants to look at the cell phone at every opportunity available. Waiting for the red signal to turn green, open the device. You are doing serious work in office, you get a ding or a dong, ting or a tong! You stop the work to at least send a message, “I will come back to you”! Heavens are not going to fall if you don’t reply. Of course, friends may think that you have died since you did not respond in 30 seconds.
Social Media has changed the society in such a way that there is fear in the minds of mafia that they may lose out to Social Media cartel. Take a back-seat Heroin’s, and ganjas of this world. You cannot compete with us! Smoking? What is that? I can have my new drug on my person all the time, police are not going to arrest me for that, parents are not bothered (they themselves are busy with addiction), lovers tiff no way. Why are you not talking to me? You don’t love me anymore. Did you see my new necklace? These words are passé! Both are busy looking at their own screens, looking into each other’s eyes? No way. Looking into his or her screen, yes of course. Did you see this video? Did you read this quote? Recently I saw photo of a group of friends, who met for chit chat! All were looking at their cell phone! Chatting? No way!
To manage the Work Life balance, another thing we should analyze is how much time we are spending on social media. 2 hours, four hours? How many free hours do we have after deducting time for work, travel, sleep, and day to day chores? Do you want most of the waking time to be spent on social media? In fact, we are cutting into family time, sleeping time, causing sleep deprivation, or even going out time. Your mind is never into what you are actually doing!
Not in the distant past, a cranky child was given a pacifier in his mouth. Now the child is given a cell phone or a tablet to pacify the child. When the child crosses a certain age, the parents start cribbing, “Oh, my child cannot spend a single minute without cell phone”. I have seen mothers looking at WA while feeding a child, not breast feed but regular meal. A child needs a bit of attention and diversion. A song, or a story used to be the name of the game while feeding kids! When the mothers themselves indulge so much in WA/FB what do you expect the child to do?
When we attempt something differently, it should start with you! Will you remain, away from social media for some time? Will you remain away from kitty parties? I am not saying that you shun these things. Anything in moderation is always good. A Mac Burger once in six months, a glass of wine, a cup of your favourite tea or coffee, for that matter any drink in moderation will always give you joy! Please think in a positive way! If we don’t use social media for some time, is it really going to affect your life?
Work pressures will be there, but can these be 24/7 and 365, no there are never such pressures. I have known of a person who went to US for work for a month, then 2 months and then continued his stay for three months. From there he was told to go to Germany for another three months. There were many problems at his home including illnesses; he should have told his boss that he will travel back after a quick visit back home, at least a couple of times. I don’t think his boss would have said no! But our friend just wanted to shun his home responsibilities. I am so busy syndrome!
Firstly, one has to decide if you really want work life balance! If you want it, there are always ways, you can find your own different methods too! Will will find a way! I forgot to tell you; I have promised Abhay that I will have a cup of tea with him one day, after his son has gone to school and before Abhay goes to office! Five minutes is all Abhay needs to go to office. The other day we went in the area where Deepti lives, we barged in to see her mother. Her mother called Deepti, she came home from office to have coffee with us. Utopia?