Work - Life Balance
It seems like more often than not, we all struggle to find a healthy work/life balance. Whether you are 25 and single or 40 and happily married with children, it is typically very difficult to manage career and our personal lives.
Because I work in social media, and essentially from my phone, I have a hard time disconnecting when I leave the office. I use social media a lot in my personal life, so I am usually always on my phone. That being said, with one touch of a button, I can easily switch to the accounts I manage for work and get caught up responding to comments and answering direct messages even when I am out of the office.
I notice myself engaging in bad habits, too. When I first started working in media, I prioritized putting my phone in my pocket during the commute and I would disconnect from Instagram and Facebook until I arrived at work or arrived back home. But over time, I have started checking emails and work notifications only five minutes after leaving the office. Talk about unhealthy!
I work in a field where thankfully, nothing is a life or death situation. But sometimes, my obsessions about checking messages make me feel like things are life or death. And I need to work on that. Nothing is so urgent that it can’t wait until I get to the office. But in a society where everything on social media is “go go go”, I have a hard time completely disconnecting when I’m at home.
I’ve been thinking a lot about work/life balance, and I realize more and more that I want to develop useful skills and strategies to manage this balance. Because let’s face it - part of health (physical, mental, emotional, etc.) involves being in the moment and minimizing stress as much as possible.
My best work/life balance advice comes from my dad. There was one night in particular where I called him and was stressing about finding Instagram content for work. I was at home, but couldn’t stop scrolling through Instagram feeds in order to find the best videos to use. He said that we have to train our brains to function like tabs on a computer. After I leave work, I need to close the work tab. I can re-open it the following day when I’m at the office, but I shouldn’t leave it “open” when I’m at home. It was rather simple advice, but it made complete sense. So, I logged out of my company’s media accounts, and only logged back in the following day.
I also encourage you to not slack off on Fridays but really push yourself to finish everything you need to do before leaving for the weekend. I’ll speak for myself, but I often take it a little easy on Friday knowing that the weekend is upon is. But when I did so last week, I ended up stressing all weekend because my work wasn’t finished and I couldn’t close the work “tab” when I left the office on Friday. So this past week, I pushed myself to make sure all my tasks were checked off and complete before signing off.
But my next tip involves showing a little self-compassion when everything is NOT finished by Friday evening. Sometimes, circumstances prevent us from crossing off all items on our to-do lists before leaving for the weekend. And that’s okay. While it may feel stressful, we are not superhuman, and we need to practice signing off despite leaving things incomplete. The good news is, Monday always arrives, and there will definitely be the chance to finish things off. It may be a little more stressful to wait until Monday, but we still need to disconnect over the weekend and not let the pressure of unfinished business get to us.
Lastly, it is important to prioritize our social circles just as much as we prioritize our careers. I am definitely guilty of coming home after a long day at work and just wanting to be alone, but I do push myself to chat with friends and see friends and family on weekends. My weekends typically aren’t the most relaxing, but I know for my own health, I need to see people and engage in social situations in order to feel more complete. It’s easy to say, “I can’t, I have to work”, but I encourage you to find the time to do things (aside from work) that make you feel HAPPY and WHOLE. Whether that’s dinner with friends or joining a community sports league, developing interests outside of work is key for establishing that work/life balance.
I hope these tips were helpful. I am not the master of work/life balance… not even close. But I do see and recognize its importance and I’m trying my best to make my life a little more balanced in terms of career and my personal life. How do you maintain a work/life balance? I’d love to hear your thoughts!