Finding a work-life balance
Work to live; don’t live to work
The average working day is 8 hours and the average working week goes for 5 days. Technically, this means your working life is 32 hours a week less than your non-working life (leaving 8 hours a day for sleep) but this isn’t quite the case when you factor in commute times and hours spent preparing for work or work tasks. Add too, time spent cleaning the house and cooking meals and the hours of non-working life drastically shrink to around 3 a day and the weekends.
It is understandable, then, that so many people have trouble balancing their life with their work. What might be less well-known is how important this balance is to both your life as well as to your work with productivity rates significantly higher in people who are happy or at least content.
It’s easy just to say: if you love what you do, it’s not really work, but I call bulldust on that. Work is work, whether you love it or not, it drains in a way that sitting reading or catching up with friends just doesn’t. But there are ways that you can bring a little more balance to your life, with these four as a place to start.
Take time off
It can be very tempting to ‘save’ your annual leave for that big trip of a lifetime that you’re always planning for but better for your mental health and balance is to take time to yourself routinely. It doesn’t have to be much, even just a half day a month can feel like a luxury in a 9 to 5 world. And you don’t have to do anything: in fact, doing nothing is the goal, simply spend time with yourself.
Spend time with yourself
Leading on from the last – central to both your life and your work (and in fact, everything to do with you) is you. So don’t you think you should get to know that person a little? It’s no use saying you’re miserable without trying to get to the cause and/or the cure. If you need it, get professional help, there is no alternative, but as an addition to this you might want to simply spend some time with yourself. Sit and drink coffee. Read a book. Watch a sunrise/sunset. Take a bath. Ask yourself questions. Find out what you love and do it.
Schedule in your hobbies
Once you have found your loves, schedule your time to make them a priority. Love fishing? Spend 15 minutes a day reading about it, as well as a monthly Sunday set aside just for this. Love cooking? Take a class, read recipes, watch food channel, go out for dinner. Sport fiend? Join a club, coach a junior team, having a team relying on you to show up keeps you consistent. Schedule what you love until it becomes something you do for yourself, but don’t let what you love become another time-sink; always keep in mind your goal: balance.
Listen to music
Music is the food of love, sooths the savage beast and speaks in words that transcend language. You might be lucky enough to work in an environment where music is always present but even if you don’t there are ways of feasting your ears and soothing your beast that don’t interrupt your work and still contribute to the balance. The radio is a great place to start or if you don’t want to listen to half ads, one quarter Bieber, make a playlist and enjoy. Soft music in the background as you eat, loud music blasting as you get dressed, boogying around your room. If you have people still sleeping, use headphones.
You don’t have to quit your job and travel the world to find a balance, just check in with yourself and find the areas you are missing out in. There are many ways to find balance but everyone is different so what works for one might not work for all. How do you find balance in your life?