“You’re leaving so early?”
Guess what’s “early”? 6.00 p.m. The time when my work day should end.
Yes, in Asia, on time = early. It’s no wonder almost everyone is never on time for anything here (don’t get me started on wedding dinners here). It’s considered early for them.
I was guilty of being one of those people who stay back at work. It didn’t matter that I clocked in an hour earlier than my actual working hour. I felt guilty for leaving on time, as though it meant I was slacking or I was not hardworking enough.
But in my journey to live more intentionally, I realised that life isn’t all about work. My worth is not measured by how many hours I spend at work. I am not my job.
I admit, when I leave on time, I leave behind many unfinished tasks. The thought of that unfinished contract or that unread email used to haunt me after I leave my office, reminding me that my decision to leave on time proved that I am irresponsible.
But when you really think about it, we are paid to work from 9 to 6. If we cannot finish our work within that period of time, whose fault is it really? If we do not waste time at work gossiping or scrolling through social media, if we do actual work from 9 to 6 (with of course short breaks in between; we are not machines), and we still cannot complete all the tasks assigned to us, it might just be that our company needs to evaluate whether there is a need to increase work force.
Sure, there will be those days when an extremely urgent project absolutely cannot wait. But these should be occasional. These should not be the norm.
So now, I make it a point to leave on time, or at the very latest, by 7.00 p.m. I even have an alarm set for this specific purpose! It says “GO HOME!”
Of course, I am blessed to have an understanding superior. She does not fault us for leaving on time as long as we manage our workload. Although she stays back every day, she does not expect us to. For this, I am truly thankful.
And let me tell you, I feel so much more wholesome now that I have a more balanced work-life. I get to workout in the morning (because I get to go to bed earlier), and I actually have time to cook dinner instead of eating out all the time. Above all that, I even have time to read and write!
Mind you, I didn’t use to workout or make dinner. How would I have the time to, when I spent so much time at work?!
Our jobs will not be there to care for us when we are old and frail. It is therefore crucial that we focus on our health now. Prevention is always better than cure.
Our jobs are meant to only be our financial mean to living a healthy and wholesome life. We are paid to work for a set number of hours, and we should dedicate all those hours to work. But anything else should be on our own terms.
For those of us with a family, with children, with pets. Please do not neglect them for work. If you ask anyone who is on their deathbed what is their number one regret in life, it is almost always not spending enough time with their loved ones.
The time we have with the people around us is finite. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You might think that you’re slogging off at work to provide for them financially. You might think that time with them can wait. But entry to a first class university can never replace the presence of their parents in their lives.
Have we all not learned from experience? What are our fondest memories? Is it not when our child takes his/her first step? Is it not that time when we went to the park with our dog? Is it not that trip we took with our friends?
Whatever it is, I am sure it has nothing to do with us still being at our office at 10.00 p.m.
Make it a point to have a work-life balance. Work can never finish; if it can, we will be jobless real soon.
Give it a try. You will be amazed at how this shift will affect you.