An interesting sounding paper just appeared in the December 2009 issue of the journal American Sociological Review but we don’t have time to read it. So I’ll just tell you what the press release says:
As many as 50 per cent of people bring their work home with them regularly, according to new research out of the University of Toronto that describes the stress associated with work-life balance and the factors that predict it.
Researchers measured the extent to which work was interfering with personal time using data from a national survey of 1,800 American workers. Sociology professor Scott Schieman (UofT) and his coauthors Melissa Milkie (University of Maryland) and PhD student Paul Glavin (UofT) asked participants questions like: “How often does your job interfere with your home or family life?”; “How often does your job interfere with your social or leisure activities?”; and “How often do you think about things going on at work when you are not working?”
Schieman says, “Nearly half of the population reports that these situations occur ‘sometimes’ or ‘frequently,’ which is particularly concerning given that the negative health impacts of an imbalance between work life and private life are well-documented.” (Eurekalert)
I think if you would ask Mrs. R. which half I’m in I think she’d say the “interferes with” half but if you ask me I’d say the “doesn’t interfere with half.” I don’t think I’m able to judge because I don’t have any clear line between work and home. While I consider myself lazy because I pretty much do what I want, Mrs. R. claims I am a workaholic because it seems I am always working on something (of course she considers blogging work related because it’s about public health, while I consider it just something I do). I spend a lot of time on the net (surprise!) and a lot of time reading a huge variety of things, most of which I suppose are work related since I am reading them because they interest me and I always think I can use them for some science or public health related problem (I am what some people call a lateral thinker and others call a dilettante). So our house is littered with scientific books and papers and various works in progress. While I do a lot of things just for enjoyment, there is never a day I don’t do some work. I have worked 7 days a week, 365 days a year for decades. No exceptions.
My son, on the other hand, is a successful academic who has a strict rule: he never brings work home, maintaining a strict line between his home space and his work space. Because he is in great demand and has more work to do than any two people I know, he solves the problem by returning to his office on weekends and evenings and does his work there. That’s not something I could do and I save the travel time, but I pay the price by having no separation between work and home.
I’m not sure which way is better. When I was younger it meant I was around the house a lot and saw the kids grow up. Even now when I am “working,” I can see Mrs. R. five feet away from me, reading her book. On the other hand, work is always with me. I wake at night thinking about it, it’s at the dinner table, throughout the evening.
I’m told they now have medication for this.