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Spotlight on Step 6: Small Victories on the Path to Change

If you’re looking for the holy grail of work-life balance, artificial intelligence has got some good news for you. And don’t worry: None of these solutions are going to tie you to your inbox. 

Proponents point to numerous ways that the AI applications now developing at warp speed can help people in executive suites and other high-stakes, high-stress roles reconfigure their time.

A societal shift toward AI assistance

Research bears this out: A study publicized in 2023 showed about 50 percent of all British workers using generative AI for some aspect of their work at least once per week. This uptake has reportedly increased their productivity as sophisticated generative AI chatbots have absorbed more labor-intensive routine tasks. This trend is particularly strong among British workers aged 18-24, more than 60 percent of whom are regularly using generative AI. 

Other studies have noted similar trends of overall uptake of generative AI in the United States. According to a recent research paper, almost one in every 10 American workers uses a generative AI program daily, and more than 30 percent use it at least monthly. 

People who use them say that generative AI products and similar tools relieve them of numerous lower-level tasks. In turn, this enables them to focus on more creative, higher-level tasks that draw on distinctly human skills like innovation, empathy, and relationship-building.

Well-balanced time equals better-quality time

According to experts, work-life balance consists of being able to maintain a healthy equilibrium between the two major spheres of our lives. One is the time and attention we spend at work focused on job responsibilities. The other is the time and attention available for us to enjoy relationships with family and friends, spend meaningful time alone, pursue interests and hobbies, and attend to personal financial, healthcare, and household needs.

A lack of work-life balance can lead to frustration, burnout, and problems in our physical, emotional, and mental health. A good work-life balance helps us manage stress better, be more productive in both spheres of our lives, and live longer.

Automation’s cumulative benefits

Automation has helped humanity manage labor-intensive grunt work for millennia, with successive innovations paving the way for greater freedom to decide how we structure and spend our time.

Just one notable example: In 1888, African American housekeeper Ellen Eglin came up with the idea of the clothes wringer, which would lead to the development of the modern washing machine. The washing machine and other labor-saving appliances gave many women new choices in accepting paid work outside the home, or spending more time cultivating family relationships and pursuing their own dreams. These innovations certainly played a significant role in supporting the women’s rights movement and creating the world we know today.

How generative AI works

Generative AI—most notably on display in the successive versions of ChatGPT—blends machine learning with the kind of language processing that characterizes human intelligence. 

ChatGPT is built on a type of neural network known as a large language model (LLM). It brings natural language processing capabilities to any task, allowing it to pull keywords and concepts out of large masses of text, put ideas together coherently, reorganize data according to specifications, and draft original documents.

The big benefit is that this type of sophisticated chatbot can work faster and with greater efficiency than any human. It can parse through universes of information to produce coherent, and often correct, real-time responses to a wide range of question types. 

A human needs to be the final pair of eyes on the work, of course, as we’ve seen in recent examples of chatbot errors that have provided incorrect information and even offered data points and citations that never existed. The AI is only as good as the human-created material it’s accessing.

So, while further developments may iron out a lot of these problems, you need to apply critical thinking and fact-checking skills to anything an AI produces. Even so, enthusiastic users in sophisticated fields like law, politics, and finance have touted its capacity to free human decision-makers up to make subtle connections, participate in continuing education, and engage with one another to make the world a better place. 

A world of applications Here are only a few specific ways ChatGPT and other generative AI systems excel in facilitating work-life balance:

  • Data management and record-keeping in information storage and retrieval systems

  • Maintaining calendars and schedules

  • Organizing meetings

  • Google searching and citation assembly

  • Writing starting frameworks of speeches, presentations, and work documents

  • Answering routine customer inquiries and emails

  • Analyzing numerical values, graphs, and tables

  • Translating incoming or outgoing text 

  • Transcribing from a document, audio file, or video recording

  • Creating code, music, and illustrations for a variety of projects

  • Providing information and actionable intelligence that can inform strategic decisions In fact, AI is revolutionizing the world of work, whether it’s conducted in-person or remotely. The right configuration of AI assistants can provide us with greater flexibility, more personalized work plans and schedules, and potentially a happier life.

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