When it comes to work-life balance, an ideal split of 8/8/8 has been proposed: 8 hours of work, 8 hours of leisure, 8 hours of sleep. But is that ideal split attainable and, more to the point, is it even ‘ideal’ at all?
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
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The 8/8/8 rule and its alternatives
Hello there, and welcome back to the Reimagining Success Podcast. I’m your host, Anna Lundberg. And as I mentioned last week, if you’re listening live, and hopefully you are, hopefully you listened in the last week, you’re tuning in to some lighter content now, over the summer, over the month of August, at least, before we get back to school in a few weeks time, as it were. And we’re looking at my fifth pillar of building that life and business outside of the nine to five, which is designing flexible work-life integration.
Last week, I gave you a few pointers on how you can really enjoy this time off, the summer period, some downtime in your business. Your clients, your colleagues, your customers are off as well, hopefully, and there’s just a bit less work. And in any case, if you have kids, you have to take time off because you’ve got the kids at home from school and so on, driving them around to all sorts of activities and so on. For me, I have to say, I’ve got two little ones, so they’re not yet in school, which is both good and bad. It means I don’t get these sort of seasons just yet. It’s pretty much business as usual all the time, but it does mean I can balance a little bit around and have quite a nice I guess a work-life balance you could call it.
But today, what we’re talking about is exactly that, what that work-life balance looks like, and I’ve talked before about, and you can do a quick search or I can send you the episodes if you’d like to have a listen, but I’ve talked before about the construct of the nine to five, which is of course what I talk about, escaping the nine to five. My book is Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5. The end of the nine to five, the death of the nine to five, you might have seen articles I’m sure about. And we’re now beginning to talk about this idea of hybrid working, when we’re looking at post-COVID, post working from home, what could that hybrid office look like, flex working and so on, allowing parents more flexibility, but not just parents, everybody. Less commuting, more working from home, different hours and so on, which I find super interesting.
The nine to five construct, without going into too much detail, is a relatively recent invention.
I guess it was supposed to be a good thing, I believe, coming from the 100 hour work weeks, the 16 hour days in the factories, and of course even pre Industrial Age, we had the long, long days working in agriculture and so on, especially in summer. We followed the sun. Long, early mornings, all the way through to the evening when the sun set and so on. So 40 hours at the time sounded pretty luxurious. And even then, work wasn’t seen, in the last hundred years or so, at least, as this kind of amazing, fulfilling, purpose driven thing. It was something you did to earn a living so that you could pay.
I’ve talked before, and I do a keynote on reimagining success, and I’ve talked then about the history, very sort of, I guess a history 101, you could say, it’s not super research, but high level, going back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, they really valued the pursuit of leisure and this idea of philosophising and pursuing art and politics. Of course, this was only men, and it was only rich men, because there were slaves and they were women and so on who were less of a priority, but still, it’s an interesting juxtaposition to the busyness syndrome and this badge of honour of being so busy and stressed that we have today.
So today I want to talk about the 8-8-8 model.
That’s what I’ve called the episode. And let me tell you what that is, if you’re not familiar. So the nine to five is 40 hours a week. It’s that nine to five, which of course, people tell me, Anna, I don’t do nine to five. And I get it. But it’s the concept, right, that we all know and love or hate. We understand what it represents. The nine to five, eight hours a day. So that’s the eight, the first day eight in the 8-8-8 model. Eight hours of work, eight hours of leisure, and eight hours of sleep. So my question to you is, how does that sound, first of all? Let that sort of sink in.
Does that sound good? Does that sound better than what you have now? Does that sound achievable? Does it even sound like something you want to do?. Eight hours of work, is that more or less than you do at the moment? Eight hours of leisure? What is leisure? What’s included in those hours? And eight hours of sleep. Do you need more or less sleep? I was certainly getting less than that when my little baby, Zach, wasn’t sleeping through the night. He’s begun to sleep through now, but still wakes up pretty early. But is that the ideal model? Is that what we should all be striving for? And is that, most importantly, what you want to be striving for, the 8-8-8?
Just to break this down, do we need more or less sleep? I think generally it’s accepted that we need seven to nine hours. I would love to have nine hours, certainly, but seven I think is some kind of minimum. So yeah, okay, eight hours of sleep, that sounds more or less okay, plus, minus. But then, what about the nine to five, the eight hours of work? Do we have to stick to that nine to five? Do we have to have eight hours? You know, there’s talk of this four day work week. I saw an article the other day that explained actually what they didn’t mean was four days. What they meant was shorter days, but they said that wasn’t as catchy a title. So it’s not that you should be working Monday to Thursday or Monday, Tuesday, take Wednesday off, Thursday, Friday, it’s just that we could do shorter hours, allegedly.
Is it three days a week? I know someone has a podcast which is all about working three days a week. Do you want to work seven days a week, but much shorter days, half days? Do you want to work, I don’t know, three months on and three months off. Who knows? So it’s just an interesting question that we can’t answer today, but I want to ask you the question so you begin to reflect on it.
What does that ideal work part of that balance look like for you, as well, especially if you’re already managing your business, because you’re in control of your time and your hours.
And also, of course, if you’re not in control, if you’re thinking about creating more freedom and flexibility in your career and business, what could that then look like for you? Because the first question you always have to ask yourself is what is success for you? What is the goal? What do you want? And then you can work out how to get there.
And then the final eight is leisure. And again, I said the Romans and Greeks [inaudible 00:05:38] pursuit of art and philosophy, I would also put physical and mental health in there, family, partners, relationship, learning, development. And then do you know what? I suddenly had the thought, and forgive me if I’m naive, but I suddenly thought, what about life admin and accounting and dishwashers and laundry and tidying and all this stuff, right? Where on earth does that go? That should go in work, I think. The nine to five, I believe, is built very much on the assumption that, let’s say the man works in the office, comes home, and the woman worked a nine to five, but her eight hours of work are housework.
So if we’re hopefully in an either, well, single or in a very equal partnership, more or less, then does that mean we all have to be doing eight hours of paid office work and eight hours on top of cleaning? Does that mean we each do four hours of office work and four hours of cleaning? I don’t know. It’s a theoretical question. It’s an interesting thought experiment. Do we want to take life admin and cleaning and so on and put that into the leisure basket? No. So that means we’d have to sleep less. We have to have less work, right? It just doesn’t add up. It seems so simple now, but the mind boggles, really.
And I’ve seen charts, and I need to go do a quick Google now, but if you’ve seen some kind of list of, you know, you can have two of these, but not all. You can either be fit and healthy, or you can be successful, or you can be in love. It’s ridiculous, right? I don’t like those ultimatums, the black and white, this or that. And yet, the fact is, it’s very hard to see how we can have all these things.
Now, if you know me at all, and if you don’t know me, then welcome, I’m really happy to have found you on this episode. But I’ve talked about my model, which in fact comes from that original keynote that I did some years ago now, my 5L model of a balanced life. And this was when I was trying to come up with a better approach that wasn’t just the work versus life, which is a very black and white dichotomy. And my model is 5L, so live, love, learn, lead, laugh. Live, wellness, and wellbeing. Love, relationships and romance. Learn, development and growth. Lead, career and impact. And finally, laugh, which is fun and spontaneity.
So live, it includes exercise and eating well and cooking and being out in nature and taking baths and meditating, and so on. Love, time with your partner, with your children, parents, sister, grandparents, friends, dating, if you’re single. Learn, okay, I have a coach myself. If you’re listening to me, we will say learning via podcast. Maybe you have a coach. Maybe you’re one of my clients. Hopefully, you will be one of my clients in the future when you’re ready, when I can help you at the right stage. Reading books, we talked last about whether Kindle, Audible, paperback, whatever. Last week we talked about different books you can read in personal development and business. Maybe you’re doing a course.
Lead is work, but it is work in terms of impact and making a difference, and again, learning and growing, so that kind of legacy building, I guess, not just work where I’m going to the office and being a workhorse. And then finally, laugh, having your hobbies, seeing friends, relaxing, reading fiction, and so on.
So those are my five L’s. But my question to you is what are your five L’s? You can take those five L’s and then write a list of your activities, I guess, of what each of those consists of. You can come up with your own areas of life that are important, and then see how those could be split up. Maybe in this case, we’ve got these five L’s, instead of 8-8-8. I still think we should have eight hours of sleep. So let’s say we then go eight to sleep. Let’s say for a day, we’re going to say two for wellness and wellbeing. So that’s exercise and meditation. Actually, more than that, right? Three, maybe? Breaks and walks and so on.
Love. How much time do you want with partner, children? Learning, that’s an hour a day, at least. Lead work, actually there aren’t that many hours left now for work. And luckily, I’m sure I’ve given this stat so many times, but the stats say that in an office environment, at least, people do about two hours and 53 minutes of productive work a day. So that’s a suggestion. Why don’t we put, instead of eight hours a day, we put three hours of work a day and let’s see how that adds up.
And of course, if you can’t possibly imagine working so few hours, then I’d encourage you to look at your to-do list and ruthlessly prioritise. If at all possible, delete, i.e. nobody has to do this. And if not, then delegate. Whether it’s housework, get a housekeeper, if at all possible, at least a cleaner a couple of hours. Get a virtual assistant, get a team, build your team. We need to find a way to make this work because of course the worst case scenario here if we don’t is that stress and physical and mental ill health, I think is the word I’m after. And that’s just not a good place to be burnt out and so on.
But that’s a topic for another week. And again, I want to keep this short and sweet, but my question for you is, if not the nine to five, if not the 8-8-8, then what? What’s your ideal split? What are those buckets? So is it work, leisure, sleep? I don’t know if we want a bucket for life admin and cleaning, but certainly think about what are your areas. And by the way, in my 5L, there is also no admin and cleaning. So that’s an interesting question. Where does that go? To some extent, I think having a clean house is part of wellness and wellbeing. If we can reframe it that way, maybe that helps. And maybe the admin is associated with taking care of our kids, or having a business and so on, in which case they can fit into those respective categories.
But again, my question to you is what is your optimal ratio? What is your split? So I leave you with that question. Grab a notebook and pen, draw up your different priorities. See what the split could look like for you. It’s not a mathematical exercise. I don’t think we’ll ever get to the ideal split, but I think it’s an interesting question to ask.
And as ever, I’d love to hear from you, to hear how you get on and what your thoughts are on the death of the nine to five, and what your individual future could look like, let alone what the society’s future could look like. You can get me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or of course, any social media where we’re connected. We will [inaudible 00:11:52] channel, and I’d love to hear your thoughts and have that conversation going. Thanks so much for listening. Enjoy your time off this summer, and I’ll see you next week. Bye for now.
If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:
Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation
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Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com
Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5
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