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A new study from resume-building platform Zety have ranked US states in assessing work-life balance based on the amount of time residents spend working and commuting.
The state revealed the most amount of ‘free time’ was Utah, which is backed up by another study where earlier this year that Utah was the 2nd happiest state in the country. After a long day in the office, you just want to get home. Yet, you are faced with the dreaded commute, cruelly digging into your free time.
With 28% of America’s work being done outside of normal working hours, Zety’s editor-in-chief Bart Turczynski said: ‘We don’t really leave work when we leave the office. Is commuting work or life? It’s not that black and white, sure. However, in our research, we decided to treat that gray zone – time spent commuting – as part of work, not life. Turns out, most 9-to-5 jobs are more like 8-to-6 jobs and don’t necessarily make up for that in cash. And no – having the opportunity to listen to 2 hours of podcasts every day at 1.5x speed is not a perk.’
Why is free time important?
Spending time away from work, doing what you enjoy alleviates stress which can take its toll on both your mental and physical well-being. Workplace burnout has been linked to health issues such as hypertension and heart problems as well as depression and anxiety.
Career expert Bart told us: ‘Work-life balance is crucial to maintaining general well-being and long-term productivity,’ You’ll find you’re much more efficient at work if you do maximise your free time.
Overworking can increase tiredness, lower concentration and decrease productivity, making working for longer hours counterproductive. Tasks that would usually take half an hour can take twice the time, more mistakes are made, and you spend more time fixing the errors.
How to achieve a better work-life balance?
Consider the commute when taking a new role
Often the commute is overlooked. Cash, working hours, perks are the no-brainers – but the commute can really eat into your time away from what you want to be doing, without you knowing it. As revealed in the study from Zety, the difference between the top and bottom US states is four hours every week. Consider how valuable having this time back would be, and perhaps a job closer to home might win the day.
Establish a clear set of boundaries
How much additional work you’re willing to complete outside of the office? When are you going to check your work email after hours, and when do you intend to ignore any incoming messages? Answer these questions yourself and consider your limitations. Then, speak to your superior about them.
Take advantage of all the resources at your disposal
You likely have co-workers who are willing to help you with your tasks inside the office, and you can finish challenging projects. It’s more than OK to ask for help if you feel like you’re overwhelmed with work.
The state-by-state breakdown
As mentioned, Utah won the day when it came to free time. To calculate this, Zety took the average hours worked weekly, added it to the average commute time over the week and subtracted this figure from the total amount of hours in a week, like so:
Hours in a week – (hours at work + commute time) = average free time per US state
Residents in Utah work an average of 37.3 hours weekly; 3.67 hours commuting and have therefore 127.03 hours left away from work duties.
This is in comparison to Alaska, the state with the least amount of free time, where residents spend nearly four hours more each week working and commuting vs those in Utah.
The study uncovers the four states where worker spend longest working and commuting: Alaska, Washington, Virginia and Maryland all land within the top 10 for best wages. Additionally, the top 10 states that have the most amount of free time have an average salary of $47,531. This is lower than the average US salary of $49,577 – supporting the idea that that longer work equals higher pay.
Adjusting your priorities when weighing up the pros and cons of a particular role can give a better indication of the impact it will have on your quality of life, hopefully prompting you to put yourself first and live a healthier lifestyle.
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