It’s easy to be a workaholic, especially if you own the business. But is it healthy? Many are now saying no. We’ve known for decades that, while it’s admirable to work hard in the quest for success, it’s also good to stop, take a breather and walk away from the office whenever possible. In the 1980s, there was even talk of a “yuppie flu,” a nickname given to the malaise and other symptoms many people suffered as a result of overwork.
Today, with more people adopting healthy habits, many are realizing the benefits of balancing their lives. Last year, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Canadian minister of employment, workforce development and labor, publicly announced changes to the Canada Labour Code designed to provide better work-life balance as well as strengthen workplace standards in federally regulated workplaces.
“Modern labour standards that reflect today’s workplace realities are also good for employers and our economy, because when we ensure that everyone has the opportunity to thrive and to succeed, we create inclusive economic growth,” said Hajdu.
An increasing number of business leaders are realizing the importance of work-life balance. The need to recharge is part of our humanity, and taking the time to step away and decompress has been said to help increase productivity.
Miko Branch, author of the book “Miss Jessie’s: Creating a Successful Business From Scratch—Naturally,” agrees with this.
“Although I try very hard to separate work and personal time, I realize that work-life balance is the key,” she says. “Owning a business means I can never truly turn off the work valve. Over the years, I’ve learned that if I want to be productive in my business life, I have to be happy, healthy and have peace of mind. I make it a priority to spend personal time with the people I love. I’m also interested in having a healthy mind, so I make sure to expose myself to positive thoughts, as well as healthy eating habits.”
Sheldon Barris views his work-life balance in a similar way. The founder and owner of Jorlee Holdings, Ltd., a Toronto company that provides financing for construction and development projects for clients who don’t qualify for financing from traditional sources, Barris knows what it’s like to work long hours. A lawyer for many years before launching his company, he’s no stranger to working into the night on behalf of his clients. Today, he takes a different approach.
“I love the work I do, I really do,” Sheldon Barris says. “And I do work hard. But I’m also a single father, and it’s extremely important to me to spend quality time with my children. When you take a weekend off to do something you like to do, whether it’s skiing down the slopes, visiting new places or simply sitting on your deck watching the sunrise, it’s relaxing,” he says. “Then, when you go back to the office, you’re revitalized and ready to take on another week.”
For many executives, it can be difficult to get quiet time, especially when you consider that most people in today’s world are constantly tethered to their electronic devices. Even if it’s a non-workday, many leaders are diligent about checking messages, sending emails and keeping a close watch on the business. Sure, it’s a prudent thing to do, since you want to keep the business running on all cylinders, but it can also be helpful to shut your devices off when opportunities present themselves.
“Whenever you have free time, try to avoid your smartphone and laptop,” says Brandon Metcalf, CEO and founder of Place Technology. “This is one of the most powerful steps you can take to draw boundaries between work and personal time.I encourage everyone to set aside some time every day to escape from technology. It provides an opportunity to reflect and focus on yourself. It also allows you to experience some peace just by being more present and in the moment.”
Many executives agree that doing simple things, such as going for a hike, spending time with family and friends or just relaxing on your deck or at the local cafe with a good book can help you set aside the stress of work, even if it’s just for a brief time.