Are you getting your seven hours of free time a day? According to new research from Direct Line Insurance, seven hours - or six hours and 59 minutes to be precise - is the minimum we need for a perfect work/life balance.
The reality, of course, is a different matter. On average, we tend to have around four hours and 14 minutes, due to work and home life pressures. Although it seems like an impossible goal, we did have the perfect work/life balance back in 1995, which has steadily been decreasing due to overtime and long hours in the office.
The report also indicates that even if you do work eight hours in the office, over 82% of us are constantly connected through smartphones and check emails outside of work hours. According to a Future Foundation report, we feel that our careers ARE more demanding due to being on email a lot more.
Conversely, even when we are with our loved ones, 47% of us spend time on social media, despite the fact that as a nation, we still clearly love the simple pleasures in life such as having a home-cooked meal (71%) and spending time with our families (75%).
The Huffington Post Founder and Chair Arianna Huffington is very passionate about the subject of work/life balance, having just launched a new HuffPost section called The Third Metric. In her blog, she writes: "...we'll be starting the conversation by asking these questions about how to redefine success. As Mika (Brzezinski) puts it, these are "the questions many women are left with when they achieve financial security, gain power or success -- or all three at once: What about me? When do I sleep? Am I happy? Am I mentally healthy? Am I physically healthy? Am I giving back? Am I remembering where I came from? What about my friendships?"
Realistically, you may not be able to fit seven hours of free time in. But be aware that stress is responsible for 40% of work-related illnesses. If you have a heavy work load, you can make instant adjustments by turning off your phone when you do actually get to spend time with your family. And just as you would schedule in a meeting at work, make sure you do something with your free time. Slouching on the couch is fine, but not if your wandering hands will be checking emails on the sly.
The research also produced a rough guideline of how to squeeze in all that free time. Do you think you'd be able to do it?
Breakfast – 22 minutes
Shower – 21 minutes
Commute – 1 hour 26 minutes
Checking social media – 18 minutes
Work – 8 hours 7 minutes
Reading newspaper/online – 18 minutes
Lunch break – 53 minutes
Spending time with family/friends – 49 minutes
Personal time – 1 hour 6 minutes
Dinner – 1 hour 6 minutes
Life Admin – 45 minutes
Watching TV/Films – 1 hour 3 minutes
Sleep – 7 hours 26 minutes
Some instant ways to relieve stress: