One my co-workers recently posted this status on Facebook:
7 hours of class, 100 Calc 2 HW probs, 40 hours of work, 30 minutes of exercise per day, 45 minutes for dinner, and 7hrs/day of sleep give or take. That leaves roughly negative 2.5 hours of free time per day.
Whether you’re a college student, a working professional, or both, you’ve likely experienced periods of time as my co-worker did when the word “free time” starts to sound foreign. If you’re like me, you may get so absorbed with your work schedule that don’t realize the toll it has taken on your life until one or more of the following happens:
A. You become sleep deprived and cranky.
In my own experience, I tend to play out the behaviors I listed above when I allow my work to take precedence over my health, relationships, and overall joy for living. The result is that I often become counterproductive in the work environment and in some cases even become physically ill.
While many of us can’t skip out of our responsibilities and take an extended personal vacation when we’re feeling tired or overworked, we can change our perspective regarding our habits about handling work and stressful situations.
B. You have a maxed out voicemail box with unread messages from worried family members.
C. You have a permanent trail of empty coffee mugs and wrappers surrounding your work space.
D.You get defensive or annoyed anytime someone tells you to take a break.
When it comes to work and life the key word is balance. The following are some strategies I have found helpful in increasing the equilibrium between work and life.
Put yourself on your calendar
Life gets pretty tiring when your whole schedule revolves around responsibilities and to-do lists. Don’t forget to pencil some time in for yourself. Whether it be reading a book,going to Yoga class, or enjoying a glass of wine with a close friend, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to put some time aside for body and mind spirit nourishing activities. Even if it’s only for 20 minutes, giving yourself a little time will not only relieve some of your stress, but it will likely make you more productive and joyful in other areas of your life.
Be selective about what you add to your plate
In life it’s easy to take on one too many projects. Before adding that extra responsibility or task to your schedules ask yourself if it is really necessary and important. The less you have on your plate, the more time you will have to focus on the most essential tasks for your personal success and happiness. And when you have less on your plate you tend to enjoy your meal more!
Allow yourself to be enough
In life, it's easy to feel like we aren’t smart enough or accomplished enough compared to our friends or co-workers. Remember that comparing yourself to others is a recipe for stress and burnout. Look at your own achievements and how far you’ve come. Be confident about your own ability and know when it’s time to call it quits on a project.
When it comes to maintaining a work-life balance in my life I have not always been an A student. Overtime I've realized that its difficult to achieve perfect work-life balance. I now recognize that there will be some weeks when I will have less time to myself and my loved ones. What does matter, however, is that I keep a clear perspective on what IS important to me in my life and to consistently make time for these activities and people.
At the end of the day when I do take time for myself to exercise, eat right, and rest, I am actually more productive in my work and significantly less stressed. I feel more in control of the situation and confident in my ability to tackle big tasks.