Ideally, you would have been reading this article three hours ago.
But it couldn’t even be written before now. There was a deadline. And another. And the dog wouldn’t stop coughing so there was a vet appointment to be squeezed in. There were Halloween treats to be rushed out the door. And a phone call with an editor. And an urgent text from a friend locked in a dressing room in desperate need of first-date fashion advice. Dinner should be started at some point. There’s a Halloween costume to mend (or, more realistically, duct tape on the inside so no one can tell) before tomorrow and another list of deadlines starts lighting up the iCal. Perhaps most indicative of the current state of affairs—a promising email titled “Need More Hours in the Day? These Calendar Apps Will Find Them” has been unopened in my inbox for three days. An article titled “How to Achieve Work-Life Balance in 5 Steps” seems both inspirational and aspirational, based solely on the title, anyway as there has been no time to read the rest of it.
There’s too much to do in just 24 hours and it’s hard not to fantasize about adding hours to do the day. How much would you pay for an extra hour to work or sleep or read a book or, hey, finish the last season of Orange is the New Black (no spoilers!)? A new survey commissioned by Zico Coconut Water, says that more than half (58%) of Americans who were willing to pay cold hard cash in exchange for one more hour in their day, said they would be willing to fork over $2,725 to have that extra hour in their over-crowded day.
That’s no small change you could find in the couch (if you had time to vacuum the couch, which is on the priority list right below brushing the dog’s teeth and above washing the curtains).
The fact that people are willing to shell out that kind of cash is, well, sad, but also indicative of a larger problem that is unfortunately hard to buy your way out of: An out-of-whack work-life balance. For most of us, the work-life balance is unbalanced as the sad kid at the playground who can’t find anyone to sit on the other side of the seesaw—you’re just sitting on the ground wondering when the fun starts. It’s like a unicorn who lives in the pages of Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP or those mystical beings living Oprah’s Best Life.
According to the Zico survey, out of the 1,000 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18+ surveyed, 74 % of them say they don’t feel “completely balanced” and actively seek ways to counteract their busy schedules, hence with the whole take-my-child’s-college-savings-for-a-measly-extra- hour thing. Only 27% of those surveyed said they are “completely balanced.”
As a person who is solidly in the other 73%, one can only imagine these 27-percenters who tell a pollster that they are “completely balanced” must send their last work email precisely at 5:30pm, arise from their ergonomic chair to walk the eight flights down to their spotless car with nary a fast-food wrapper in site. They arrive home in time to cook a well-balanced meal of superfoods for their children who are eager to finish their homework before diving into a delicious plate that is up to the FDA’s latest nutritional standards. The kids brush their teeth in tiny circles for two minutes, floss and then head to their organic-sheeted beds to read their bedtime books in Japanese, their third language. They fall asleep immediately giving their parents plenty of time to watch the final episode of Orange is the New Black and get a full eight hours of sleep without once checking their work email.
Being “completely balanced” sounds like you’re living in a catalog, which is great but some of us don’t have time to peruse a catalog. Some of us are too busy meeting deadlines, mending costumes and searching the couch for change in hopes of buying an extra hour in the day.
Besides, haven’t you heard? There’s no such thing as a work-life balance, so do the best you can and save your money for vacation. Or, you know, vet bills.
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