Efficiency key to work-life balance

Do Canadians need more vacation time? Ask anyone who works nine to five and I bet you they’ll say “yes.”

The Canadian standard is two weeks to start (Saskatchewan gets three), with increases typically occurring as tenure goes on. But Canada pales in comparison to our European counterparts, some of whom get four weeks to start.

We’re working longer hours and investing much more time in careers than European professionals — who have a have a no-nonsense attitude toward the separation of work and home life.

“I think in the West, we generally work too hard and put off enjoying life until later,” says recent University of Toronto graduate Kleine Achiles. “There’s too much (emphasis) on making money.”

Vacationing can lower overall stress levels, contributing to increased productivity and well-being. But is two weeks really enough time off? On the other hand, what about all the work we have to get done?

Too many of us believe that time equates to productivity and results, but that’s not necessarily true.

Employees who work fewer hours have less time to get things done, and the pressure of looming deadlines can spike an increase in productivity and overall quality of work.

Employees with fewer working hours — like the Europeans — are also less likely to waste time socializing and procrastinating, focusing only on getting things done.

So, why is there such a huge difference between the continents?

Europeans tend to treat their jobs like work, whereas North Americans think of the office as a way of life. Our culture is built on the 24-hour working day, and we often work late or take work home to meet our objectives.

But we’re also more inclined toward daytime distractions, including Facebook and coffee breaks, which causes us to work longer hours to achieve results.

Efficiency is the key to a positive work-life balance.

If you get things done within your eight-hour workday, you’ll be less inclined to have to take work home with you evenings and weekends, when you should be relaxing and enjoying life.

Even if it’s only for a few hours or a couple days, “checking out” from work will help you decrease stress and ensure you keep productivity at peak levels.

Julie Tyios is the marketing manager and chief matchmaker at Vestiigo.com, a career destination for young professionals. Contact her at julie@vestiigo.com.