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Work-life balance: relaxing at the beach and a laptop on a desk; image by Alexas_Fotos, via Pixabay, CC0.
Work-life balance: relaxing at the beach and a laptop on a desk; image by Alexas_Fotos, via Pixabay, CC0.

It’s a matter of job vs. lifestyle: work/life balance and fair compensation for time spent working, and thus, away from your life. The latest famous lawsuit over overtime wages was filed against President Trump’s company. The driver claims he earned more than $200,000 in overtime wages, which were never paid to him. These types of cases almost always win at court.

Do you know why? – Because they protect a worker’s right to have a private life. When they agree to work overtime, they need to be adequately paid for their efforts. In the USA, overtime hours are regulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Huge corporations are not immune to these regulations. Even companies like Disney have paid millions of dollars in back wages.

This Act requires employers to pay overtime hours at the rate of 1½ times the regular pay. Overtime hours account for all time beyond 40 hours per week. If this law didn’t exist, the employees would be at risk of over-exploitation.

The law exists to protect your rights, but let’s be real: it won’t protect you from your own inability to manage your time. If you spend too much time at work and too little time on your private life, it means you have a misbalanced life. No law can help you take your life back.

Can You Have a Rich Lifestyle While Having a Job?

In France, which has adopted the 35-hour workweek rule, the majority of couples with young children have full-time jobs and have trouble coping with family obligations. In the rest of the world, the 40-hour workweek is the standard, so the struggle is even greater.

As it turns out, it’s not the workweek. France, as the only European country that used legislation to collectively reduce working time, did achieve some results with this policy. Highly-educated workers gained 13.5 days per year on average, so they could take longer vacations. However, only 8% of the employees at supervisory and management level were affected by the law.

This is a statement that a senior counsel in a French multinational corporation gave for BBC: “I work about 45 to 50 hours a week, from roughly 09:00 till 19:30.”

The limitation of weekly hours is just a threshold, and most people will work overtime whenever they have opportunity to do that. A report from 2016 showed that the average New Yorker works 49 hours and 8 minutes per week.

That’s okay. But when overtime affects your entire lifestyle, it’s a problem and you’re the only one who holds responsibility for it. If you don’t give yourself enough time to recover, you’ll end up being stressed, exhausted, and burned-out.

Yes; you can still have a rich lifestyle while having a full-time job.

How Can You Achieve the Job vs. Lifestyle Balance?

The law will protect you against unpaid extra hours. You can file a lawsuit against your employer and if you prove that such actions occurred, you will win the case. However, the law cannot protect you from yourself. If you agree to work overtime and your employer gives you a fair payment for those hours, you cannot complain.

Woman juggling symbols representing work and life; image by geralt, via Pixabay, CC0.
Woman juggling symbols representing work and life; image by geralt, via Pixabay, CC0.

What can you do?

  • Talk to your employer. If they put pressure on you to work overtime and you don’t want or don’t need those extra hours, then have an honest conversation about it. Explain that you’re completing the working hours as per your contract, and you are not willing to agree to overtime hours.
  • Suggest some solutions. If, for example, you spend many hours after work completing blog posts or sending out promotional emails for your employer, you can suggest them to outsource this type of work to assignment writing You can also suggest them to hire freelance workers for any applicable tasks. Freelance workers have hourly rates, so they won’t cost your employer as much as a new employee would.
  • Plan your time off work. As soon as you get home, have a rest and a nice meal. Then, do something productive with your time. Spend it as much as possible with your family, but engage in a hobby, too. Your after-work hobby will keep you sane. Researchers from San Francisco State University found that activities like gardening, painting, knitting, cooking, or whatever you like will boost your levels of creativity at work. You gain personal benefits from a hobby, but your employer will appreciate the effects, too.

Let’s take an example. A manager wakes up at least two hours before heading off to work. They have time to practice a short session of yoga or go for a run around the neighborhood. They take a quick shower, squeeze a fresh juice, and go to work. After work, they prepare a quick meal at home, eat and have a short rest. They spend the evening with their family. In the evening, they do some reading, because that’s the hobby they enjoy. This manager uses weekends for short trips and does their best to explore nature.

The day has 24 hours. We don’t work throughout all of them. The week has 7 days. We don’t work every single day. There is enough time for everything.

You’re the one responsible for your wellbeing. That’s a huge responsibility and you shouldn’t underestimate it. Work-life balance is an achievable goal; you just have to work for it.

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