Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Yesterday, on May Day, I came across this photo on a friend's facebook page:

It reminded me that people struggled, fought, and protested over work-life balance. Some even died. We should be thankful that unions fought so hard for a shorter work day and increased labor rights. And part of being thankful for their work is to continue that work; to continue to fight for fair labor laws, the right to unionize, and work-life balance.

Surprisingly, even with my stellar math skills (ha!), I had never thought of my day as being broken down into three, eight hour sections. I've only had a 9-5 job for less than a year, and after my grad student schedule of endless days in libraries and frequent all-nighters, I've struggled to adjust. There are many days when I feel like work is all I have time for. I seem to get nothing done in the evenings after work. And I don't even have kids!

For whatever reason, looking at my day as 8+8+8 helps me. Instead of thinking that work is my day, and that I can maybe just squeeze in a few other things after hours, it helps me visualize it differently. I suspect that thinking I have eight hours of work, eight hours of life, and eight hours of sleep will help me organize my day differently and get more done, not just after work but during work. It also might help the dramatic tendency I have to feel like I'm somehow letting life pass me by while I'm at work (even though I love my job and need the money for, you know, food).

Do you think of life as 8+8+8? Do you have any tips for getting things done after the work day?


  1. I remember one of my professors shared the 8-8-8 rule with me in college and it just didn't seem doable. It still seems like work takes up way more than 8 hours a day, but I think you are right that it's a good idea to keep in mind. It's crazy that I could have as much time outside of work as in work AND still get 8 hours of sleep!

  2. 8 hours of work is probably an underestimation. On a good day, I do work 9-5, but it doesn't end there. I still have to get ready in the morning and commute through traffic twice. That probably adds another 1.5 - 2 hours that isn't really "my time."

  3. I like this, too! Although I work 10 hrs/day, the break up is still a good way to conceive of my time. And since I'm working at a job that I find fulfilling it doesn't always feel like real labor (and since my workplace is 100% women, we are all understanding of the need to take time for ourselves!).

    A Cup of Jo posted a great article about the sense of "busy-ness" that Americans have. It said that many of us think of ourselves as busier than we actually are, or that we are busy because we do not prioritize.

    I love leaving work behind me at the end of the day (and trying to leave the computer behind, too!) and reading at home or going to my drawing class. This is also part of me being very introverted; I don't feel pressure to socialize or make commitments that I'm not interested in. And if there's a day when I leave the dishes in the sink because I'd rather read or snuggle with Lucas... whatever!

    I also find it so interesting that despite all of the technological conveniences we have to make life "easier" and "simpler", we are still so busy! Women in the 13 Colonies spent hours doing things that we can now leave to machines! Where's our times going? I think alongside all the technological conveniences is an increasing sense of obligation to be "productive" with every moment of our time.


  4. Also, I cannot imagine my life with children!!! I literally do not know how my colleagues go home to their small children after a day of teaching!! Incredible. -B

  5. Anonymous - You're right. When I add in travel time and getting ready for work, I've easily cut out one or two hours.

    BK - I think you're so right about the need to feel "productive" every second. Lately, I've feel like I haven't been doing much reading because I feel like I could be doing something more productive.

    I must say, however, that conceptualizing my time this way last week helped me be much more productive, feel more fulfilled, and feel less guilty about doing "me things" like reading the Hunger Games. It might not perfectly break down into 8-8-8, but it definitely makes me take better advantage of time outside of work.