This year, the whole concept of work/life balance has been on my mind. With a new job, freelance work, and life goals, sometimes it feels so incredibly overwhelming.
I have almost zero work/life balance. Most days I get home from work late, eat dinner, take a shower, watch an old episode of The Office (which speaks to my stressed soul), and go to sleep. Not a lot of time for fun and/or relaxation, but in the past few weeks, I’ve tried really hard to change that. Here’s what I’ve learned.
1. Don’t take work home with you
This is really hard for me, because for so long I worked at home, so work was home. I still do this, because I’m writing this blog and for Hello Giggles, so my home is also my office. But in terms of my full-time job, I try to leave the drama, stress, and work at the office.
For me, this translates into trying not to complain too much about the more stressful/ridiculous parts of my job when I’m home. At home, I am ZEN. I leave the crap at work, and at home, I relax.
On the way home, however, I rant a lot to get it out of my system. 🙂 Let yourself get it all out before you get home, so you’re not seething when you should be happy and relaxed.
2. Invest time into your hobbies…be stubborn about it.
When I got a new job, I struggled with the 12 hours a day it would require, with the addition of my commute. That’s a huge amount of time to be not doing fun things. As a way to compromise, I started listening to audiobooks on my commute. I can’t even describe how much my commute got better! I looked forward to the drive, and I got to work happier. It really makes a huge difference when you find time to do what you like.
I also tried to get my errands done during the week: before work starts (there’s a convenient Walgreens close to my office), and during my lunch hour. That way, my weekends are all for me, and to enjoy the things I love to do, writing this blog among them.
3. Turn off your phone.
Technology makes it easier to be constantly connected to work, which isn’t always a good thing. I’m lucky in that I’m not really expected to work outside of work hours, but a lot of people are. They’re constantly reachable and so are constantly expected to be available to their bosses. I think it’s important to turn off that phone during important times, like when you’re out with friends or with your family.
As for me, I try not to return emails when I’m out of work, and as for social media, I’ve turned off all my push notifications for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! Sometimes, being off the grid is SO NICE. I’m obsessed with my phone enough as it is without it flashing with notifications all the time.
4. Make lists—both for what you have to do, and what you want to do.
Because I have a lot of different responsibilities, the to-do list is my drug. I’m addicted to making lists and getting to cross things off, but I also make lists for the things I want to do, like watch a particular show or see my friends on a certain day. This helps me prioritize my down time, as well as my work time. Knowing that entertainment is as important to your life as your job is half the battle.
5. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
I fail at this ALL THE TIME! I am constantly putting pressure on myself to meet deadlines, do everything perfectly, and have time left over. Sometimes it’s just not possible, and that’s okay.
The whole idea is to not let work become your whole life. It’s been difficult for me this year, transitioning from working from home to commuting about three hours a day (both ways). I’ve had to manage my time better, become a lot more organized, and prioritize the things I was not willing to sacrifice.