Infographic: Is Work Taking Over Americans’ Lives?

It's a term that surfaces a lot these days in the news and even in casual conversation: work-life balance.

But despite how much coverage the concept has gotten in recent years, there still doesn't seem to be much consensus on what’s “normal” when it comes to work-life balance in America. Is there a normal? Or, for that matter, a new normal?

For one person, work-life balance may mean leaving the office at 5 p.m. every day—and completely disconnecting from email in the process. For someone else, it may be perfectly acceptable to stay at the office late and answer company emails up until bedtime.

Curious to know where you fall on the work-life balance scale?

We were, too, so we recently surveyed people across the country to find out how the average American’s work habits stack up—from who's actually taking all of their vacation days to how many of us are guilty of checking work email when we finally do go on vacation.

Intrigued? Read on to find out how you compare.



  • Cheechers13

    The US is way behind other countries on work life balance … Working 8 hours or more, five days out of the week is not balance .. Human beings need more time to do things unrelated to work (time with family , friends , alone, exercise etc) … children need time to play. Adults are children that have been around longer. We need to time for play too. Time to do things thy aren’t necessarily working towards a goal or deadline. We all have special talents or hobbies that become neglected during the 40+ hour work week .. Why? If money and extras are the motivation then people are literally exchanging happiness for the material things that only bring the illusion if happiness. If you are just trying to make ends meet, you are probably in an unfair circumstance and need to think outside the box. Look at all of your options, even ones that seem silly. Why are your talents? Could they become an additinal source of income or even primary source. If you like to dance, you can become a Zumba instructor .. Talk/ counselor … Cook / cook .. Etc. I don’t have all of the answers. But the bottom line here is this: WORKING 40+ HOURS A WEEK IS NOT BALANCE .. If you are unhappy,take a good look at your strengths and FORGE YOUR OWN PATH

    • stormeepops

      the money mantras have us all in fear of poverty ..believing that we must earn more to be content ,work longer to keep our jobs . our homes our family and social status ,borrowing gives us fear as families and individuals .debt has no conscience ,never sleeps and demands more
      i work in the uk and work hours for free ,as do many others ,taxed to the hilt and poverty spreading ,there is enough for all we just dont have the desire to share it well.

    • Aj

      I appreciate your comment so much. I work 9-10 hours/day in a job where I know the environment is not conducive to my professional or personal well being. I struggle with figuring out what I would be good at doing, yet I know my energies would be better off elsewhere. I am keeping your comment so I can be reminded every day to strive to forge my own path. Life is too short. I’d feel a lot better working long hours if I enjoyed my work.
      This is a new years resolution and I am starting today.

      Thank you for your encouragement and positivity.

  • Donna

    The large majority of numbers quoted in this survey are small numbers. If 17% of us can’t go 2 hours without checking our email, does that mean that 83% of us can? It seems that would be the number to report. I worked 4 days a week for 16 years, and I thought I had a very nice work/life balance. I showed up on time, worked all day, and almost always left on time. Occasionally something would come up where I had to work on a weekend or stay a little late, but that was rare. I also didn’t check FaceBook or play Solitaire or talk on the phone all day. I did my work. I was home when my kids left for school in the morning, and I took vacation time or switched days off when they had field trips or events at school. The 4 days was the key for me. I had that one extra day to go to the doctor, get my hair cut, go to the grocery without the kids. The 4 days working with 3 days off is a great balance.

  • Amy

    I really believe if people want a work-life balance (not that such a thing exists in any perfect way) there’s a way to find it. It just takes figuring out priorities – (money v.s. time, etc.) and I think people are afraid, in this economy, to switch careers or to do something that actually makes people happier. Also, I don’t think a 8-hour day, 5-days a week is that “out of balance,” to respond to another commenter. It’s the fact that then, people spend their weekend working, or thinking about work, or doing stuff related to work, instead of focusing on themselves and what makes them happy, that’s adding to the problem. Work can be beneficial, it’s how we USE it instead of letting it use US all the time, I think.