Time management Mondays: The science of work-life balance

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As a working mother, I may just be especially receptive, but it seems like there’s been a lot of talk lately about work-life balance — how it contributes to productivity and well-being, whether companies are getting the message or just paying lip service, and how to make it work for both white and blue collar workers and men and women alike.

Among the more interesting bits of analysis that have emerged comes this piece about a new study Google is sponsoring on the topic. Writes Laszlo Boc, Google’s SVP of People Operations:

There is precious little scientific certainty around how to build great work environments, cultivate high performing teams, maximize productivity, or enhance happiness.

What do we hope to learn? In the short-term, how to improve wellbeing, how to cultivate better leaders, how to keep Googlers engaged for longer periods of time, how happiness impacts work and how work impacts happiness.

Of course, the study is, for the moment, limited insofar as its population base is restricted to Google employees, but it’s already come out with some interesting preliminary ideas. Noting that technology has made work and life inseparable for most people, Boc explains:

Our first rounds of gDNA have revealed that only 31% of people are able to break free of this burden of blurring. We call them “Segmentors.” They draw a psychological line between work stress and the rest of their lives, and without a care for looming deadlines and floods of emails can fall gently asleep each night.

For “Integrators,” by contrast, work looms constantly in the background. They not only find themselves checking email all evening, but pressing refresh on gmail again and again to see if new work has come in. (To be precise, people fall on a continuum across these dimensions, so I’m simplifying a bit.)

Prior to the birth of my son, I would have put myself pretty squarely in the “integrator” category; since then, I’ve gotten much better at segmenting, especially on weekends. But like half of Google’s integrators, I’m always looking for ways to get better at segmenting.

What about you?

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