Our largest ever work place survey reveals that what you, the Men's Health reader, want most of all is to find that elusive happy medium between your career and your free time. here's how it's done.
PART 1 THE PROBLEM
In The last few months we've become quite the office snoop. We've earwigged on chats at the water-cooler, canvassed opinions on the quiet and read emails over your shoulder. Our survey of more than 1,000 men turned the angle poise lamp on every aspect of your working life and illuminated some key areas.
There's good news: the majority of you are happy with your jobs. Despite the endless portents of economic doom, the professional mood is overwhelmingly positive. An encouraging 70% of you are working in the industry you want to be in and over two-thirds feel secure in your current position.
It's statistically at odds With the gloomy picture painted by the Press. "Employment is falling and unemployment is already higher than during the 2008-9 recession," says the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The UK's jobless total may be riding high, but when the going gets tough, the Men's Health man-quite clearly-gets going. Despite the fact that half of you received no pay rise last year, it seems you're pretty content with your nine-to-five.
There is a problem, though. What worries you is that your work doesn't actually fit in the hours between 9am and 5pm. It's eating into the time put aside for the rest of your life. Pressure to perform means that 59% of you admit to often taking work home, 60% check your phone the second it sounds and 83% even check their emails at least once a day when supposedly 'on holiday'.
What you're still after, what would really make you happy, is to establish a practical, realistic work-life balance. Half of those surveyed had this at the very top of their 2012 to-do list.
So, we have crunched the numbers and consulted all the leading experts for you. What we found is that a modern 'work-life balance' no longer means what it used to: less hours spent doing one and more enjoying the other. These days it's about being better at both-all the time.
SO WHAT IS YOUR TIME WORTH?
Use this equation by mathematician Garth Sundem to calculate the value of every hour of your free time. Then, when you next make plans to work late - or, indeed, to take a day off - you know the precise worth of that time in pounds and pence.
S=Your yearly salary
FE=How enjoyable are your free hours? [1-10 with l0 being "I am a part-time consultant or Victoria's Secret" and l being "I have many cats"]
FI=How rewarding do you find your pastimes? [l-10 with l0 being "Volunteer for African well-digging charity" and 1 being" I'm playing quite a lot of Xbox"]
HTV=Hour's of recreational screen time you spend per day
HW=How many hours do you work each week?
R=Your relationship status[1-10 with one being "unattached and fancy-free" and l0 being "married and therefore expected to spend time with spouse"]
K=Number of kids
PART 2 THE DATA
MH MAN IN NUMBERS
Our survey produced some revealing results. Here's how you, our dear readers, feel about your daily grind.
DRAW YOUR WORK-LIFE SHAPE
Fill in this wheel to determine how balanced your life is at the moment, and the areas where you could improve The audit circle below takes the 14 most important components of your lifestyle. Grade each one out of 10 in terms of how fulfilled that area of your life is. Then join the dots to create a graphical representation of you lifestyle.
A large circle indicates the ideal work-life balance, while a smaller, irregular pattern reveals that you may need to adjust your priorities. (A single black dot in the middle is bad.) Identify the areas you can Improve, and read on to learn how.
Your work-lile shape analysed by Professor Cary Cooper, author and editor of over 120 books and articles on work-life balance
"You have a good balance in most areas of your life, which you should aim to maintain. If you're looking to move jobs, evaluate if the added responsibility or pay is worth the extra hours' work and increased stress."
"Consider two important factors: is work affecting the relationship with your partner or your physical fitness? If the answer to either of these two is yes, look to do something about it."
"Things must change. Work first on your home life, friends and fitness. Spend more time with those you live with; they will make you happiest. See friends at least twice a week and do at least 30 min more exercise a week."
PRESENT, AND INCORRECT
The numbers don't lie. Staying at work beyond the time needed for effective performance of your job is a national obsession for us Brits. It is a disease. It even has a name: presenteeism.
The UK clocks up the second longest working week in Europe, only 20 minutes less than the Dutch in first place. But why do we do it? The answer is simple-by working longer hours, we feel less likely to lose our jobs.
Our survey found that 40% of MH readers work longer than contracted, with presenteeism affecting 44% in total.
The finance sector is known to hold presenteeism in particularly high regard. When quizzed about their new paternity leave policy, a senior figure at an investment bank recently said: "We're going to use it to weed out the losers."
BEAT THE BUG
Understanding presenteeism is the first step towards beating it. Consider the Pareto Principle-or the 80/20 rule, as it's more commonly known. "The rule is based on a 1906 study by ltalian economist Wilfredo Pareto," says management consultant lewis Guest. "He found that 20% of his country held most of the wealth and had the biggest influence on decisions. Relating it to the world of business, 20% of clients often produce 80% or more of the sales, while 20% of a meeting provides you with 80% of the information that you need."
The principle says that by identifying the areas where you are most effective, you can use your effort and time more efficiently-and work fewer hours. "Take stock of the previous week: says Guest. "Who did you speak to and what results did each encounter yield? If there are no tangible gains, think twice about dealing with them again."
See down for further techniques to help make your nine-to-five even more profitable.
PART 3 THE SOLUTION
Kit is the double-edged sword of work- life balance. Make it work for you, and know when to switch off
What? This has more memory than other BlackBerrys, three-daybattery life and the best-in-class keyboard.
Balance it "Downloading emails once and dealing with them on your commute saves at least 30min," says Stephen Bevan of the Work Foundation.
Acer Aspire S3
What? Light, portable, has a lightning-fast 1.5sec start-up speed and six hours of battery life.
Balance it Based on the average start-up speed of 70sec, with the Acer you'll save just under five hours over the course Of the year.
What? Sync the pen with a PC and your notes are transcribed automatically. The Smartpen also has a voice recorder and 8GB of memory.
Balance it You'll at the very least halve the time taken by note-taking and improve your record of meetings.
What? Banish the Rolodex. Onlie databases are easier to search, manage and maintain. With an Intuitive search function, finding a long-lost contact is a cinch.
Balance it Save time, and always put the name to the face. Even if you met them at last years work drinks do.
What? "Video meetings not only save the money-spent hiring a space of restaurant table, but also travel time," says management consultant Lewis Guest.
Balance it Make sure your Skype details are in your email signature - this shows you're prepared to use it.
Stop others wasting your time in three easy steps
START AN HOURLY DIARY
Make a quick note of everything you do at work, every hour, for a week. If there are tasks which are recurring more than twice per week for longer than half an hour, group them together and complete them at the same time.
KEEP A DATABASE OF EVERYONE YOU SPEAK TO
Do this for at least two weeks. Maintain notes of what was discussed, what you learned from speaking to them and - if relevant - whether they eamed you any money, by proxy or otherwise.
START TO CULL CONVERSATIONS
Cut back on chats and activities that are appearing too often with little or no gain. It sounds harsh, but you'll soon be leaving work on time, with your to-do list complete.
INVEST IN RELATIONSHIPS
Family or partner time should be just that avoid spending it zoned out in front of the TV or computer
"Make the most of your home time, however you spend it: says Professor Cooper. "Putting In the effort and working on behaviourathome may not help you achieve perfect work·life balal"lCe, but It wll! create a life that Is more passionate and productive." It sounds formulaic. but a simple routine can make the whole
family feel valued. Followthese gUidelines from the moment you get in and treat them as an Investment In your pursuit for the ideal lifestyle equilibrium.
1 Make contact with whoever's home as soon as you're through the door.
2 It sounds very simple, but asking about someone's day goes a long way.
3 Cook dinner as a family. Involving everyone strengthens bonds and gives value to house dynamics.
4 Eat at the table, with phones, MP3 players and gaming consoles well away and the TV off.
5 Share the TV A Radio Times poll found that 38% of family arguments were centred around television. "Investing in Sky can be a real relationship-saver," says life coach Graham Hill.
STAY FIT AT WORK
A series of simple exercises performed at your desk can reduce stress and chances of office injuries like RSI and sciatica, so work won't ruin your body for the rest of your life
1 Prevent: neck stiffness
Gently pull your right elbow across your chest towards your left shoulder until you feel a stretch. Hold for 5-10sec. Repeat 3-5 times with each arm.
2 Boost: circulation
Grasp your left knee with both hands. lift your left leg off the floor. Bend forwards (curling your back), bringing your nose towards your knee. Repeat 3-5 times with both legs.
3 Avoid: RSI
Keeping your arms straight and with outstretched fingers, slowly flick your hands so your fingers are pointing up in the air. Repeat 10 times, three times a day.
4 Pre-empt: back problems
Sit or stand upright. Interlace your fingers and lift arms overhead. Keeping the elbows locked, move arms as far back as you can. Bend to each side, holding for 5-10sec. Repeat 3-5 times.
OUTSOURCE YOUR LIFE
Buying in some hired help can be one of the easiest ways to gain extra free time. Work out how much you can afford
THE NOT TO DO LIST
Do not complete the below tasks, for improved productivity and happiness in the office and at home
CHECK SOCIAL SITES REGULARLY
The average office worker spends 7hr 46min on Facebook per month. That's almost an entire working day. Social-networking apps make maintaining your online reputation a good way to spend train orbus journeys. Otherwise, be strongand get your fix at lunch time only.
HAVE YOUR PHONE ON YOU AT ALL TIMES
Great for tapping out an email when you're in a taxi. Not good on the dinner table. Awful in the bedroom. Rather than shutting it down completely, turn'push'messages off instead - you won't get emails until you ask for them and you can still be contacted if it's genuinely really Important.
LET PEOPLE RAMBLE ON [ANDON, ANDON]
By front loading conversations and asking a few key questions, you can stop long-winded exchanges and you won't come across as rude. "What can I do for you?" is a great place to start. Swiftly follow their reply with: "As I understand it, you want me to ..." To end the chat with polite haste try: "Thanks for the call. I'm afraid I have to go now, but I've got what you were trying to say and will get back to you soon."
HAVE MEETINGS WITH NO AGENDA
Create a checklist for every meeting that you book or attend. Tick off the following areas before you enter the goldfish bowl: agenda, duration objectives. closing points.
ANSWER CALLS FROM UNKNOWN NUMBERS
Nothing good ever comes from it. It is likely to be one of your service providers offering you the chance to pay more for the service they already provide you with. Worse still, an automated voice bot. Anyone else will leave a message or contact you by other means.