Work-life balance doesn’t exist but now we know how much free time is ideal
Bottom Line: One of the biggest lines of bull you’ll ever hear is “work-life balance”. I’ve only seen it exist for marginally successful people perpetuated by marginal “experts”. I’ve been fortunate to spend my life on the periphery of people far more impressive than myself and to a person, regardless of background, industry or profession I’ve never known one of them that didn’t work harder than the average person. I’m not saying that there aren’t people who’re handed opportunity that haven’t coasted to some extent (I’ve known a number of trust-fund babies in that camp) but for those who’ve made it happen, out-sized success doesn’t happen between 9 and 5 taking all nights and weekends off. Right on cue comes a study that shows the ideal amount of free time per day that provides all of the balance we need.
A recent study of more than 35,000 Americans conducted by researchers at The Wharton School of Business at Penn and the University of California found the ideal amount of down-time for “balance”. It’s two and a half hours per day. Any less than that and we tend to be more stressed with quality of life suffering for our success. Any more than that and quality of life also begins to suffer. In fact, having excessive amounts of free time can lead to worse life satisfaction than having virtually no free time.
While it might sound odd, especially if you long for the day you have more free time, it makes perfect sense. Being productive is naturally more rewarding than being unproductive. Having two and a half hours to relax and unwind and enjoy your family is great. Having more than that begins to become unproductive. In other words, we’re wired to be successful.