Researchers have estimated how much of our lifetime is spent on various activities. For example, based on a lifespan of 80 years, the average person will spend:1
- 26 years sleeping
- 7 years trying to get to sleep
- 13 years at work
- 8 years watching TV
- 5 years eating
- 3 years on social media
- 3 years on vacation
- 1 year exercising
- 1 year socializing
- 1 year in primary and secondary school
When you look at your own life from this perspective, it may convince you to spend more time having fun. Interestingly, that’s what the goal of saving and investing is about: getting your money to work harder so you don’t have to. Whatever your personal work/life balance goals, remember that we’re here to create financial strategies to help you pursue them. Please feel free to give us a call.
While on the subject of work/life balance, it’s worth considering the challenges we face in terms of getting more out of life than just four years of socializing and vacationing. Working women face a tougher road than men. According to the National Women’s Law Center, the current gender wage gap means that women will earn an average of $403,440 less during their lifetime than men.2
One German study found that parents who work flexible schedules so they have more time to raise their family tend to work longer hours than the traditional nine-to-five day. Moreover, people who work from home tend to work significantly longer, as their workday is characterized by stops and starts with early mornings and late evenings.3
Unfortunately, the more haphazard a work schedule, the less sleep you may get. Sustained long hours on the job can lead to persistent fatigue and burn out. One study found that working two extra hours a day for more than 50 days a year can increase risk of stroke by up to 29 percent, largely due to poor eating habits and less time and energy for relationships. Also, people who work the night shift have a more difficult time getting their body clock to adjust to wake and sleep patterns that provide enough rest.4
Some studies have suggested that reducing employee work hours can lead to higher levels of productivity. In particular, research into the four-day workweek has found that employees experience lower stress levels, higher levels of job satisfaction and improvement in their work-life balance.5
The idea of working less seems to fly in the face of today’s conventional retirement planning advice of delaying retirement to allow more time to accumulate assets. It’s true that Social Security benefits accrue to a higher level when you work longer, and your investments have more opportunity to grow. However, most people are not working past traditional retirement age these days. In reality, the average retirement age in the U.S. is 63 — which means people are retiring before they even qualify for Medicare benefits (at age 65).6
Of course, if you enjoy work and want to continue, that could be a great choice for you. But do consider that reducing the number of hours you work could improve your health, your relationships and add more social time to your life.
1 Leigh Campbell. Huffington Post. Oct. 19, 2017. “We’ve Broken Down Your Entire Life Into Years Spent Doing Tasks.” https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/10/18/weve-broken-down-your-entire-life-into-years-spent-doing-tasks_a_23248153//. Accessed July 5, 2019.
2 Gina Belli. PayScale. Oct. 1, 2018. “Here’s how many years you’ll spend at work in your lifetime.” https://www.payscale.com/career-news/2018/10/heres-how-many-years-youll-spend-work-in-your-lifetime. Accessed July 5, 2019.
3 Priyansha Mistry. HR Digest. July 6, 2019. “Flexible jobs can make work life balance harder, study finds.” https://www.thehrdigest.com/flexible-jobs-can-make-work-life-balance-harder-study-finds/. Accessed July 7, 2019.
4 Siobhan Kenna. 10 Daily. July 6, 2019. “Working Just Two Hours Overtime A Day Could Increase Stroke Risk.” https://10daily.com.au/news/australia/a190702mzhja/working-just-two-hours-overtime-a-day-could-increase-stroke-risk-20190707. Accessed July 5, 2019.
5 Ross Chainey. Business Insider. Feb. 15, 2019. “It’s time to switch to a four-day working week, economists argue.” https://www.businessinsider.com/economists-its-time-to-switch-to-a-four-day-working-week-2019-2. Accessed July 5, 2019.
6 Dana Anspach. The Balance. March 12, 2019. “Average Retirement Age in the United States.” https://www.thebalance.com/average-retirement-age-in-the-united-states-2388864. Accessed July 5, 2019.