Organising by Numbers - EightThe concept of work life balance is not a new one. Way back in the 1800s, workers campaigned for the eight-hour-day, based on the ideal of an eight-hour working day with “eight hours labour, eight hours rest and eight hours recreation.” In short, the campaign was won and is commemorated in Melbourne by the Eight-Hour-Day Monument. It is an obelisk decorated by a bronze emblem featuring “888”. Around a globe at the top of the monument, an inscription reads: “Labour, Recreation, Peace.”

When I think of the number eight in relation to organising and time management, that work life balance ideal of 8-8-8 inspires me. But all these many years after the eight-hour-day was won for male workers (yes, it was a while before women got that privilege), what is the reality?

As someone who is self-employed, I have the luxury of designing my own ideal workweek. I also have the ability to be flexible with my time. But also, as someone who works for myself, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. So it’s in my best interest to work industriously and with purpose. Thank goodness I love my work and that is not a hardship! Having that flexibility and choice really is a form of freedom.

What about the average employee? If you’re one of those, consider how your days are spent. Are work obligations creeping into your rest and relaxation time? Technological advancements have made it possible to be contacted outside of working hours. It’s become enough of an issue that there is now a campaign for the “right to disconnect”. There is new legislation which means that some employees will have the right to refuse contact outside their working hours. it’s a response to growing concerns about work-related mental health issues, particularly those linked to stress and overwork. Another step forward for workers.

Well, that takes care of the eight hours of labour. What about rest and recreation? I’d argue that the most important eight-hour stint in any day is the resting part. Without a good night’s rest, how can we possibly labour for eight hours, let alone enjoy recreation? That’s a simple motherhood statement, right? In reality, there are so many things that get in the way of a good night’s rest. From screens to aches and pains and crying babies to snoring partners. Sometimes we have control over our sleep hygiene and sometimes we need to take control. I encourage you to take control of your sleep hygiene to protect those ideal eight hours of rest.

And that leaves us with eight hours of recreation. Ah bliss. There was a time not too long ago that I neglected this area of my life. That could be a result of me enjoying my work so much, or because of the values instilled in me by my hard-working parents. Who know? All I know is that since including a lot more recreation in my life, I feel all the better for it. The “balance” has returned to my heart. Recreation doesn’t have to be outside of the home, or an organised activity. It could be going for a walk, phoning a friend for a chat, playing at arts and crafts, a run along the beach or throwing a ball for a dog. The most important thing is that it fills your cup.

How will you spend your 8-8-8?


Read more in the Organising by Numbers series here.


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