Differences Between Work-Life Balance In Eastern And Western Cultures

When it comes to work-life balance, Asian and Western cultures usually have different ways of discovering it.

For many years here in Australia, I’ve juggled working a day job, chasing a writing career and making time for things on the personal and home front. Sometimes it feels like I’ve got too many things work and play-wise to do.

Work to play or play to work. Or both | Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental.

Work to play or play to work. Or both | Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental.

Finding a work-life balance is arguably about juggling needs and wants. According to Safework SA, work life balance is ‘the relationship between your work and the commitments in the rest of your life, and how they impact on one another’. Finding a work-life balance often means organising time for things you want to do, and have to do whether you like it or not because it may impact the former and vice-versa – and trying to discover that ever elusive feeling called satisfaction all round.

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What Are Some Of Australia’s Favourite Hobbies And Pastimes?

When it comes to hobbies and pastimes, Australians have quite a few of them. One way or another, there’s always something we can do to fill our leisure time in Australia.

As someone who works a 9-5 office job, I cherish my free time. Usually around mid-week, I’d plan a few things I want to do on the weekend or after work the following week.

In this world, there are so many places to see and explore in our free time | Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

In this world, there are so many places to see and explore in our free time | Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth.

Depending on our personalities, each of us has our own ways of enjoying our spare time and time outside of work.

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Why Some Of Us Are Neat And Tidy

It’s a habit some of us have: being neat and tidy. A neat freak. That is, some of us like things to be in a certain order or place.

I’m one of these neat people, always making sure there’s no rubbish on my desks at work and at home, putting away things I don’t need for a while. My Asian colleague Mandy the Magician is a neat person too. The other afternoon she finished all her work for the day and decided to tidy our office – sorting a plastic tub full of paperclips, a plastic tub the size of your average rectangular pillow, sorting silver paperclips from the coloured ones.

Neat lines of trees. Not one of them out of place | Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge.

Neat lines of trees. Not one of them out of place | Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge.

Being neat is a trait that transcends cultures. People all over the world are neat. Perhaps it’s a personality trait, a choice to be neat.

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Why Asians Do Everything Fast

When it comes to work, a lot of Asians are fast and efficient. Sometimes scarily fast and efficient (when compared to others). It’s like a super power that some of us have.

I’m a fast worker. Part of my job at work involves processing: I stamp application forms and divide them into batches of 100, which takes me around five minutes per batch. But that’s not as fast as my Asian colleague, and let’s call her Mandy. Watching Mandy grab a stack of papers, flick the papers up by their corners and count each one until the 100th one in a matter of twenty seconds is like watching a magic show – the papers flick up in a blur, actually disappearing for a second.

If we move too fast, we might just miss the finer things in life. Bolte Bridge, Docklands |Weekly Photo Challenge: Minimalist.

If we move too fast, we might just miss the finer things in life. Bolte Bridge, Docklands | Weekly Photo Challenge: Minimalist.

Maybe some of us Asians do things fast because we want to be first, first to cross the finish line. Coming out on top and getting titles and rewards is admired in Asian cultures. When I was younger, my parents nagged at me to finish all my homework as soon as I got home from school so I could start the next set of questions in the maths revision books. I did that, because back then I naively thought keeping ahead of the pack made us truly happy.

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Should We Work For Free?

“Does it pay? How much does the job pay?”

That’s the first thing my mum asks when I land a volunteer stint or get a job that pays. Coming from the average traditional-minded Chinese-Malaysian family, I’m expected to be a filial Asian kid, working for the money and supporting the folks in their old age.

The distance between dreams, so near yet so far. Buskers playing, working, for free | Weekly Photo Challenge: Between.

The distance between dreams, so near yet so far. Buskers playing, working, for free | Weekly Photo Challenge: Between.

Why we shouldn’t work for free, shouldn’t take up that internship or volunteer? When we say yes to working for free, we might be naïve. We might get taken advantage of, made to do “slave labour”.

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Why We Work

Over the past year, I’ve been working five days a week in an office processing papers and answering phones. Not exactly a huge fan of it.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t love their job. Practically every day I hear my colleagues count down the hours to home time.

Gothic heritage office building. Manchester Unity Building | Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art.

Gothic heritage office building. Manchester Unity Building | Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art.

Yet I’m not giving up working full time anytime soon. I can’t.

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