I want to be absolutely clear, however, that working less is not the only solution to improving work-life balance.
The Mayo clinic offer a number of suggestions for improving work-life balance, including leaving work at work, time management and looking after yourself: www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/art-20048134?pg=2 These points are expanded on by Prof Boris Groysberg in the Harvard Business Review, based on international work with business executives hbr.org/2014/03/manage-your-work-manage-your-life. Doctors, especially during training, have traditionally sacrificed their work-life balance and that this has, and continues to, impact on our families and social circles. Although a support network is essential, it is also right to be cautious about protecting family time from encroaching work tasks.
The important principle, encapsulated by Betsy Jacobson, that work-life balance is, “not better time management, but better boundary management,” is expounded by business consultant and mountaineer Heather Geluk: peopleyoumeetalongtheway.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/balance-is-not-better-time-management.html Defining goals and priorities in our lives outside work is an important step. Those of us on rotational training may have limited control of our placements, commuting distance or rotas. Some of the art of balancing work and life for EM trainees, I believe, has to involve accommodating the ebb and flow of rotas and times of exam preparation etc.
So why work<life balance in the title? For the same reason that one of my colleagues says ‘life-work balance’. The priority has to be your own health and your family. Sometimes it is necessary to remember that however worthwhile and satisfying EM can be, the department can and will continue to function if you have to take time to attend to your well-being.