Busy-ness Is Sucking the Life out of Our Lives: The Complete Lack of Respect for “The Family” in the Workplace. #guestblog

I am so happy to have MommyoftheYear blogger, Justine ONeill Finney guesting on this blog. I love her sense of humor (tweaked though it is). I could laugh all day at her snark. However this blog post isn’t about being snarky (though bits might seen that way). It’s very much a real-life experience for her. Read and leave me comments — or tweet me– if you happen to agree with her perspective. It’s important! (PS: as you read this essay by Justine, note that the formatting of segments, –including bolding, italics and block quotes– are mine (Stevie Wilson) and not Justine’s. I am the messenger but I am right there with her on this because sometimes I do this too — on both sides of this fence.

Busy-ness Is Sucking the Life out of Our Lives: The Complete Lack Respect for “The Family” in the Workplace.

By Justine ONeill Finney (MommyoftheYear.net)

Once upon a time, the guy that stayed in the office past 7pm on a regular basis was “that guy”. People talked behind his back, “Gary must be having trouble at home, he never leaves.” Now most of us are or are married to a version of “that guy”. Once upon a time the word ‘work-aholic’ was a pejorative one. Now it is something we brag about. It’s gone too far and there is starting to be a real concern about the ultimate effect this unsustainable lifestyle is going to have on us all. There are articles and books, videos and speakers dedicated to the topic of slowing down. There seems to be endless discussion about work/life balance. I’m tired of talking. When are we going to start doing, changing, saying no and taking back our time?

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In an article for the Huffington post, Guy Kawasaki addressed what is now commonly referred to as the “glorification of busy.” In his piece he wrote,

“Our two main metrics for success are money and power, and they drive us to work longer hours, sleep with our phones and tablets, miss important moments with our families and impacts our health.”

He then goes on to offer tips on how to find some balance or, as Arianna Huffington calls it in her book (on the same subject) “thrive”. Good start and right on, we all need to take steps toward slowing down and engaging in our own well-being. The lingering question however is, how does one take the time to nurture well-being and balance in a culture that does not allow or respect each other’s time?

I personally can’t help but to focus my thoughts on the “miss important moments with our families,” portion of Mr. Kawasaki’s s statement. I have been a stay at home mother for over 4 years. Prior to that I spent the better part of my 20’s and half of my 30’s working my ass off just to get to a point where I could pay my rent and save a little money for a rainy day. I now work even harder raising my two sons, while my husband works his ass off. It is no secret that SAHMs are alone a lot but it has become ubiquitous in the SAHM community to hear statements like, “I might as well be a single mother, he is never home anyway.” Or, “I’m a [insert your husband’s career choice], widow.” It doesn’t matter if your husband is a doctor, an accountant, a teacher or an Uber driver, the expectation to work 10, 12…24 hours a day is rampant. Families especially are suffering the absence of one or more parent in otherwise stable homes. I’d love to see the effect that divorce has on children who were born in the last 10 years. I’d love to see how or if it differs from the emotional distress it had on children in the generations prior. I can’t help but suspect that many children are not suffering the same impact of Daddy (or Mommy) not being at the dinner table anymore, because it is quite common (in my set of friends it is almost 100%) that Daddy is not home for dinner…unless of course you plan to feed your children dinner at 8pm. It is not just Dads either. Working moms are under an enormous amount of pressure to put in the hours to compete with that young single 24 year old in the cubicle down the hall and missing the recitals and the soccer practices. It’s shameful and it is not what any of us want to be doing, so why do we keep doing it?

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Fear.

Somewhere along the line a catastrophic shift happened and we were all taught to fear ‘losing it all’ if we didn’t burn the midnight oil at the office and answer the call from a colleague at 7pm on a Sunday night. I honestly don’t know exactly what prompted this shift or even when it happened but I know that when I was a child most fathers were home for dinner by 6pm (aside from those with particular jobs like doctors etc.). If your mom worked she was probably home even earlier. While time has obviously changed and more women are having kick ass careers and men are not the sole breadwinners, so too has the workday. The standard workday used to be 9a-5p (there was even a song about it for those under the age of 30!) it is now 9a-6p and it seems to me that has now become more of a suggestion than a practice. Add to it the smartphones, the tablets and the laptop with remote desktop and GoToMeeting, so not only can you take work home with you but you can actually take the whole f&cking office home too. There are no set working hours, all hours are working hours. In interviews when HR says, “Our office hours are 9a-6p.” they should just start being honest and say, “Our office hours are irrelevant, we expect you to be here before 9 and after 6 and on call the remainder of the time,” because that is far more common than the former. And we do it; we answer the call, the email, the text and then jump on that conference call on the way to our child’s school play. We force our children to be silent in the car while we conduct business. We walk away from them in the middle of their sentences to answer an email. We don’t make it home to tuck in our children Monday through Friday. We do these things because we are afraid that if we don’t we will lose our job. We will lose our income and then we will lose it all…meanwhile we’ve already started to, haven’t we?

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The mere concept of “busy” is so popular that I know UNEMPLOYED single people that are “busy.” Come, the f&ck…ON! “Busy-ness” has become an epidemic of nearly comical proportions but it is not at all funny when you see the impact that it has on the family unit. Recently I saw this article posted on a friend’s Facebook status and it sent me into a rage.

“Why I decided to go on a cowork vacation in Bali for a month”

Companies are now offering their employees Co-Work Vacations or “coworkation,” combining vacation with work. This is a work trip with lipstick on it, nothing more. Nice try. Now, in addition to the hours and the constant contact, companies can now suggest that their employees travel for weeks or months at a time with co-workers under the guise of somehow offering them some portion of a holiday – luxuries to be taken on non-working hours of course…which is…never! Right now this is merely an option, a suggestion, an offer but what if 5 of the 7 people on a team say they are going, what are those 2 schmucks with a wife and kids at home supposed to do? Lag behind? Wake up at 4am to do conference calls with their team on the coast of Amalfi or in Fiji? When I was twenty-five this option would have been awesome and I do completely understand the positive elements of this kind of situation. The concern however is one of seeing that this option is a symptom of a much larger problem.

The problem in its purest form is that many of us have become too busy to be happy. Busy-ness is aggressively encouraged by schools, corporations and even hobby groups. Being too busy to be happy has become a badge of honor. No matter how much you dress it up there is no real reward for being overly busy. “Since you can’t take a real vacation, take this fake one, we call it a Co-Work vacation.” People are struggling with the complete lack of respect for personal time.

In my own home I hear my own husband say things like, “I wish I could go to yoga before work but who has the time?” Well, he does technically. He doesn’t actually have to go into the office until he feels like it so he could certainly take a 7am class and be into the office at a pretty reasonable time. The bigger issue is that if he does take that 7am class and goes “silent” for an hour, he comes back to his phone to find 127 emails and 3 urgent phone calls that are only urgent because the caller didn’t get a response in under 4 minutes.

There is NO respect for a person’s life outside of work anymore. We were told that the brass ring was the key to happiness; we were told that once you achieved one goal you had to set a new one and work twice as hard. We were told, “nothing comes easily.” It’s not true. They sold us a bill of goods, a lot of us are starting to realize that but making the change is hard when you are one of few. It is very hard to ignore the call when you know 12 other people are engaging and participating. It’s hard to ignore that voice that says, “you have to take the late meeting or it will look bad, you have to justify your position with time, time, time!”

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I posit this: What if some of us were bold enough to say no to absurd requests like conference calls at 10am on a Sunday or to being available by email while on vacation with your family? What if we demanded the respect everyone seems to have lost?
Maybe it will look a little like shaming at first, but maybe they need to be ashamed. What if we start answering with brutal truth instead of just saying yes or coming up with vague excuses in an attempt to hide the fact that you actually have a life! What if we force others to confront their actions, their expectations and even their own experience?

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Maybe the next time your boss says, “I have to push our quarterly meeting to 7pm tonight,” you respond by saying that won’t work because 7pm is when you rock your newborn to sleep. Perhaps the next time a call from a colleague comes in at 9pm on a Friday night you answer it like you would a telemarketing call, “Hi, this isn’t a good time, I am on a date with my spouse,” or better yet, have your spouse answer! “John can’t come to the phone right now, he is eating dinner with his family.” Imagine how mortified you would be if you were on the other end? Would you ever call that person at a ridiculous time ever again? Would you maybe even think about how awful it is when someone does that to you? Would you then perhaps demand the same respect in your own life?

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There is scientific evidence that happier people are more productive. That happier people excel in their jobs. Clock out, go eat dinner with your family and tuck your kids in… Make no mistake it’s a miserable experience eating dinner with kids and getting them ready for bed but it is far more rewarding and healthy than any conference call, meeting, presentation, install, demonstration, gig etc., to know you connected with and experienced the love of your family.

Thank you to Justine ONeill Finney for her caustic yet accurate take on the current state of work vs family. Too often the family takes a serious hit in terms of time. It’s not second place; it’s LAST place. Find more commentaries on Mommyoftheyear.net

Stevie Wilson,
LA-Story.com

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Digital and social media pioneer and visionary meets disruptive innovator with a passion for topics and conversations that reveal insight into the So. California lifestyle. LA-Story.com appeals to a global audience (from Asia to Africa; Middle East to Europe, No. America to Latin America) in variety of topics and sectors: style (beauty and fashion), health & fitness, entertainment (movies, TV, books, music and more) ; food, beverages & spirits; IT Security + tech , travel, special events (red carpet to green carpet) I am known for interviews ( podcasts , textual and video conversations) with notables, celebrities and companies about interesting products & brands; profiles about places that reflect the So. CA vision and special events (Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys & other events that illustrate celebrity , athletes and home-town "stars" lifestyle and initiatives.) that illuminate the insider's perspective of So. California's lifestyle . Learn what's hot in Los Angeles, NYC, MIami and stops closer to home that make this blog a must-read because the voice, attitude, authenticity and ability to grasp the essence of most sectors, brands & products make it easy for consumers to earn what makes a brand, initiative or product unique - whether, food, fashion or finance (or any other topic "on the table") With 15+ Years online launching websites, online magazines, forums, products & brands, my voice, authenticity and ability to grasp the essence of most sectors, brands & products make it easy for me to share what the online audience and consumers alike want to learn- how to shop, live and reflect the lifestyle they wish to emulate. Need to leverage digital and social media space? Reach out to me!

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