Shot of a businesswoman experiencing stress at work
A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute predicts that one in 16 people will have to work in a different industry in the aftermath of the pandemic. Getty

The eternal quest for the perfect work-life balance



Balance. It's the modern-day holy grail. Whether it's emotional balance, brain-body balance, a balanced diet, work-life balance or a balanced exercise regime, equilibrium (in one form or another) is being touted as the answer to most 21st-century ills.

On our eternal quest to lead more harmonious lives, we buy cookbooks brimming with healthy recipes, books that proceed to gather dust on the kitchen counter (guilty); we travel to exotic destinations for wellness holidays and then spend most of our time checking work emails (guilty); we attempt to meditate or be more mindful but, for the most part, fail miserably (guilty); we try endless yoga classes, but just become frustrated about the sorry state of our asanas (guilty); and we buy adult colouring books that just end up feeling a little, well, pointless (yup, guilty again).

Work-life balance is the ultimate goal – the lifestyle jackpot, so to speak. Because our attitudes to work are becoming increasingly unsustainable. “Work is our religion and it’s failing us,” a Huffington Post headline shouted out last week. “No previous age has been so enthralled, or longed for more, rather than less, work to do. No other people have imagined nothing better for their posterity than the eternal creation of more work,” suggested the author, Benjamin Hunnicutt.

As a professor of leisure studies at the University of Iowa and author of Free Time: The Forgotten American Dream, Hunnicutt knows a thing or two about this subject. As he sees it, our jobs are now where we find success, meaning, purpose and identity. Our self-worth has become inextricably linked to our professional performance – and that's not a particularly healthy state of being.

Work-life balance is a challenge for those of us in the UAE, as the latest Expat Insider survey from InterNations revealed this week. In a ranking of destinations offering the best work-life balance for expats, the UAE came in at number 52. Out of 65. The UAE has always prided itself on its work-hard-play-hard mentality, but it seems that most of us are doing more of the working hard than the playing hard.

People in Bahrain and Oman are far more well-rounded in their approach to life, it seems. Of the 10 countries that recorded the best work-life balance, Bahrain came in at number 2, with 69 per cent of respondents expressing satisfaction with their work-life balance and 72 per cent saying they were satisfied with their working hours. Oman came in at number 9. Norway, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Sweden, Costa Rica, The Netherlands and Malta also featured in the top 10, with Denmark taking the number one spot. No big surprises there – those guys work 39.7 hours a week.

What was most telling about the results (which were based on insights from about 13,000 expat workers from 188 countries and territories) was that there was no direct correlation between the number of hours worked per week and satisfaction levels. For example, expats in the Czech Republic spend more time at work than the global average, but still have great work-life balance. It appears that the holy grail isn't so much about how long your working week is but a matter of what you do with all those other hours.

I sometimes wonder if we spend so much time worrying about how to achieve balance, and our abject failure to do so, that the whole idea becomes a source of stress in itself. I spend a significant amount of time wondering how I can squeeze more into my week, and it’s entirely counterproductive.

Barbara Corcoran, who is one of the investors on the long-running US television show Shark Tank and a mother of two children, has just come out to say that work-life balance might as well be a unicorn. "Stop striving for work-life balance; it just doesn't exist," she boldly announced on a radio podcast.

Those who do still think it is possible say the only way to achieve a balanced existence is to completely compartmentalise the various parts of your life. Work; family; parenting; friends; exercise, and so on. You know the drill… if you are with your family, put your phone to one side; those work emails can probably wait. If you are at work, try and focus completely on the task at hand – the more productive you are, the quicker you’ll be done with it. Figure out what your priorities are and be completely realistic about what can be achieved and what cannot.

The trick, I think, is to remember to leave a little bit of time for yourself. The eternal pursuit of the unicorn can wait.

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Read more from Selina:

The dress failed to win me over – but Meghan Markle herself most certainly has

Ramadan offers us all the chance to reassess and reset

Paying tribute to the extraordinary life of my dad, the ultimate expat

Why eating meat makes me feel like a hypocrite

Phone etiquette? I need some guidelines please

After a decade, Dubai feels like it has come of age

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How the bonus system works

The two riders are among several riders in the UAE to receive the top payment of £10,000 under the Thank You Fund of £16 million (Dh80m), which was announced in conjunction with Deliveroo's £8 billion (Dh40bn) stock market listing earlier this year.

The £10,000 (Dh50,000) payment is made to those riders who have completed the highest number of orders in each market.

There are also riders who will receive payments of £1,000 (Dh5,000) and £500 (Dh2,500).

All riders who have worked with Deliveroo for at least one year and completed 2,000 orders will receive £200 (Dh1,000), the company said when it announced the scheme.

Dhadak

Director: Shashank Khaitan

Starring: Janhvi Kapoor, Ishaan Khattar, Ashutosh Rana

Stars: 3

CONFIRMED LINE-UP

Elena Rybakina (Kazakhstan)
Ons Jabeur (Tunisia)
Maria Sakkari (Greece)
Barbora Krejčíková (Czech Republic)
Beatriz Haddad Maia (Brazil)
Jeļena Ostapenko (Latvia)
Liudmila Samsonova
Daria Kasatkina 
Veronika Kudermetova 
Caroline Garcia (France) 
Magda Linette (Poland) 
Sorana Cîrstea (Romania) 
Anastasia Potapova 
Anhelina Kalinina (Ukraine)  
Jasmine Paolini (Italy) 
Emma Navarro (USA) 
Lesia Tsurenko (Ukraine)
Naomi Osaka (Japan) - wildcard
Emma Raducanu (Great Britain) - wildcard
Alexandra Eala (Philippines) - wildcard

Diriyah project at a glance

- Diriyah’s 1.9km King Salman Boulevard, a Parisian Champs-Elysees-inspired avenue, is scheduled for completion in 2028
- The Royal Diriyah Opera House is expected to be completed in four years
- Diriyah’s first of 42 hotels, the Bab Samhan hotel, will open in the first quarter of 2024
- On completion in 2030, the Diriyah project is forecast to accommodate more than 100,000 people
- The $63.2 billion Diriyah project will contribute $7.2 billion to the kingdom’s GDP
- It will create more than 178,000 jobs and aims to attract more than 50 million visits a year
- About 2,000 people work for the Diriyah Company, with more than 86 per cent being Saudi citizens

The specs

Engine: two permanent magnet synchronous motors
Transmission: two-speed
Power: 625hp
Torque: 850Nm
Range: 456km
Price: from Dh737,480
On sale: now

The specs

Engine: 3.8-litre V6

Power: 295hp at 6,000rpm

Torque: 355Nm at 5,200rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 10.7L/100km

Price: Dh179,999-plus

On sale: now

SPEC SHEET: SAMSUNG GALAXY S24 ULTRA

Display: 6.8" quad-HD+ dynamic Amoled 2X, 3120 x 1440, 505ppi, HDR10+, 120Hz

Processor: 4nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, 64-bit octa-core

Memory: 12GB RAM

Storage: 256/512GB / 1TB

Platform: Android 14, One UI 6.1

Main camera: quad 200MP wide f/1.7 + 50MP periscope telephoto f/3.4 with 5x optical/10x optical quality zoom + 10MP telephoto 2.4 with 3x optical zoom + 12MP ultra-wide f/2.2; 100x Space Zoom; auto HDR, expert RAW

Video: 8K@24/30fps, 4K@30/60/120fps, full-HD@30/60/240fps, full-HD super slo-mo@960fps

Front camera: 12MP f/2.2

Battery: 5000mAh, fast wireless charging 2.0, Wireless PowerShare

Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC

I/O: USB-C; built-in Galaxy S Pen

Durability: IP68, up to 1.5m of freshwater up to 30 minutes; dust-resistant

SIM: Nano + nano / nano + eSIM / dual eSIM (varies in different markets)

Colours: Titanium black, titanium grey, titanium violet, titanium yellow

In the box: Galaxy S24 Ultra, USB-C-to-C cable

Price: Dh5,099 for 256GB, Dh5,599 for 512GB, Dh6,599 for 1TB

The specs

Powertrain: Single electric motor
Power: 201hp
Torque: 310Nm
Transmission: Single-speed auto
Battery: 53kWh lithium-ion battery pack (GS base model); 70kWh battery pack (GF)
Touring range: 350km (GS); 480km (GF)
Price: From Dh129,900 (GS); Dh149,000 (GF)
On sale: Now

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cylinder
Power: 101hp
Torque: 135Nm
Transmission: Six-speed auto
Price: From Dh79,900
On sale: Now

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