Work. Life. It’s the war of the worlds. At least, it seems like it. You work all day, and it never seems like you get a break – even when you kick your feet up on the coffee table at home. You’re stressed out, and you’re not getting good sleep. You seem to get sick more often than usual. You don’t like where your life is going and you haven’t even hit 30 yet. Here’s how to realistically achieve that often-elusive work-life balance.
Define what you actually want to do, not what you think you should want to do. When you start thinking in terms of “should,” you start feeling guilty that your actual wants don’t match up with what you should want. This is about your life and your values. Follow what you actually value.
Sometimes that means not going out on Friday night. Sometimes, it means taking a vacation when the boss wants you to put in overtime. You have to decide just how serious your career is to you, what you want from your work, and how long you need to recharge your batteries.
Keep a journal of day’s events, especially your feelings, looking for patterns, highlighting what made you happiest or best results. Evernote is a great online tool, that helps, as the tagline says, remember everything.
Work at Work
Keep work at work and don’t bring it home with you. The easiest way to blur the lines between work and home is to start giving yourself homework. You didn’t like it in school and you’ll like it less now that you’re an adult. It’s a common mistake people make. They think they’ll get more done by doing a little bit at home.
The truth is that you never seem to get much work done at home and, when you do, it’s stressful. Why? Because you’re burning yourself out. You can’t work for 8 hours straight and then continue at home without some type of relaxation. Your brain can’t take it.
Consider leveraging the Pomodoro technique, segmenting your time and charting your intended tasks. The time-management tool ensures breaks and seeks stress avoidance.
There really is no such thing as multi-tasking, so don’t even try. When you divide your attention between several things at work you only accomplish one thing: nothing. You can’t focus on any one thing, so all of the work you end up doing is sub-par.
That makes it enticing to take work home with you since it never got the attention it deserved at home. Shut off the Internet at work, stop taking breaks during times when you’re supposed to be working, and try to wall yourself off from other people so you can focus on what you’re doing.
Evernote, suggested above, helps alleviate multi-tasking anxieties, but one Android application also seeks to help those with smart devices visually address multi-tasking when needed.
Set Defined Times For Relaxation
An important part of work-life balance is relaxation. Our bodies aren’t made for uninterrupted work. We can handle bouts of intense concentration only when they’re followed by periods of relaxation and rest. Schedule regular downtime on the weekends, vacations, and trips to movies, musicals, sporting events, or anything else that helps you unwind.
The rest and relaxation is, in a way, almost more important than the work itself. It helps you to emotionally prepare for the work you’ll end up doing. You have to feel motivated, rested, and refreshed to do anything resembling a good job. Working non-stop is like trying to run a car on no gas – it just doesn’t work.
You look exhausted from reading this post. Perhaps it’s time for a planned vacation. Where are some of the most-suggested locales in the world?
Louise Hudson works as a human resources officer for a multinational. Her articles mainly appear on employment related blogs.
Image Credit: apps.clayton.edu