TED Talks: Work Life Balance
6th March 2017
Work-life balance has been a hot topic in many an office recently. Some say the flexible working revolution is giving employees freedom; others say it is taking it away. The truth is, it depends entirely on you and how you balance your job and your personal life. So without further ado, here are 4 TED Talks about work-life balance to help you get it right.
1 – Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work – Jason Fried
Though many companies have a rigid corporate outlook on working in the office, Jason Fried has found that when he asks people where they really want to go to get work done, they pick places like the business lounge, the kitchen, a coffee shop.
And if you think about it, this is quite relatable. Wouldn’t you rather work somewhere other than the office sometimes? Fried says that the fast pace of the modern office does not allow people the uninterrupted time to really get things done, so people work in the evenings or on weekends to get everything done.
This, of course, doesn’t bode well for work-life balance. If you do work in an office, this talk discusses the ways you can overcome distractions—like meetings, which Fried hates—and how to make it a more productive environment.
Standout quote: “Meetings aren’t work. Meetings are places to go to talk about things you’re supposed to be doing later.”
2 – How to Succeed? Get More Sleep – Arianna Huffington
Recorded at TEDWomen 2010, this short, concise talk basically says all you need to know in the title, but if you’re still not convinced of the power of sleep it is essential listening.
Huffington says that early in her career she would barely sleep at all, but she spoke to doctors and scientists and then tried it out herself and she found, definitively, that getting more sleep makes you more productive at work, and have a more enjoyable life at home.
She decries the “sleep deprivation one-upmanship” that she has noticed in her male friends, and argues that this is unhealthy, and leads to bad decision-making. Taking on getting more sleep as a feminist cause, Huffington encourages all the women in attendance to sleep for at least seven and a half or eight hours.
Standout quote: “We women are going to lead the way in this new revolution, this new feminist issue. We are literally going to sleep our way to the top. Literally!”
3 – How to Make Life-Balance Work – Nigel Marsh
As Nigel Marsh establishes at the start of this talk, he was once a “corporate warrior” whose work-life balance was way off. He was working all the time, and neglecting his family. So what did he do? He quit his job. For a year, his work-life balance seemed great because he didn’t have any work! But when he ran out of money, he had to seriously engage with the issue. And his findings are fascinating and insightful.
His four observations about work-life balance will help drive the debate forward, and his practical tips will no doubt inspire many. The most important thing he says, is that work-life balance is up to us, not our employers, not our governments. We have to do it ourselves.
Marsh points out, in a semi-Marxian analysis, that any corporation, no matter how benevolent, is inherently designed to get as much work out of its employees as it can. That’s just the way capitalism works. If we don’t enforce work-life boundaries, they will not do it for us.
Standout quote: “Being more balanced doesn’t mean dramatic upheaval in your life. With the smallest investment in the right places, you can radically transform the quality of your relationships and the quality of your life.”
4 – The Power of Time Off – Stefan Sagmeister
Stefan Sagmeister’s New York design studio has a difference. Every seven years, he closes it down completely for one year. Completely closed. They don’t take any calls from clients, they don’t do any work there. Every employee takes a year sabbatical, and uses that time to totally rethink the way they approach their work.
Sagmeister looked at the timeline of the average working life, and decided that taking some years out of retirement and interspersing them between the working years would have great results for the workers and for their work.
In Sagmeister’s years off, he travels, he searches for new ideas, he indulges in his own creative projects. It is a very fulfilling time, and a totally new way to look at work-life balance.
Standout quote: “Basically everything we’ve done in the seven years following the first sabbatical came out of thinking of that one single year.”