I know plenty of people who let their lives and their work get totally tied up and dragged down by each other. Some of them are my friends, coworkers, and family members. And I know how hard it can be sometimes to let go of a bad work day and not let it ruin your evening or weekend.
But since work is something most of have to do, whether we like it or not, finding a way to reach that golden “work-life balance” that everyone talks about is so important. (Plus, you know how much I’m a fan of balance here at this blog.) 🙂
I’m lucky in that I don’t have the kind of job that follows me home (like phone calls from the boss all hours of the weekend), but I still have plenty of days where I find myself bringing stress from work home with me and inflicting it on The Hubby until he gently points out what I’m doing. So, I’ve developed these habits for keeping the “work” part of my life from negatively impacting the “life” part of my life:
Vent as soon as you get home…then let go of it. The Hubby likes to just shut off his work brain as soon as he walks in the door at 5:30, but I can’t do that (and still don’t understand how he can). I need to get out my frustrations and worries so they don’t affect the rest of the night. So, we’ve come to a routine: When I get home, as I’m hanging up my coat and going through the mail and other just-got-home stuff, I tell The Hubby everything from the day that’s stuck with me…good and bad.
He offers suggestions sometimes on how to deal with a situation, but for the most part, I just need him to listen and say, “Wow, that sucks” or “That’s too bad.” Then, once I’m done puttering around and we’re ready to settle in and make dinner, it’s understood that work talk is over. I’ve let out what I needed to, now it’s time to just relax and enjoy my time with the fam.
Totally unplug on your lunch break. I can’t eat at my desk or in the break room like most people do. I don’t want my “me” time to be surrounded by people grumbling about their jobs or trying to get me to talk about projects while I’m reading my book. So I go outside and eat at one of the benches in our courtyard if it’s nice outside, and if it’s cold or rainy or otherwise not nice, I eat in my car.
It may look weird to people walking by in the parking lot, but I don’t care. I can put on some nice, soothing music, enjoy my book without interruptions, and after I’ve eaten, I can also sneak in a lovely power nap. It’s a win win!
Don’t let personal issues invade your workday. Most people think of work-life balance in terms of not letting work get in the way of their personal lives…but sometimes it can be just as big of an issue if you let your personal life invade your work space. If you’ve just had a fight with a friend or you’ve got a big party to throw that weekend and a ton of errands to run for it still, worrying about that during working hours doesn’t do you any good. All it does is distract you and frustrate you more because there’s nothing you can do about it right now.
And do not, I can say from experience, try discussing a personal issue over office email with your spouse or s.o. That’s one thing The Hubby and I learned very quickly. Trying to figure out a budget problem or decide whose family you’re spending Christmas with, over a series of emails in between projects where it’s super-easy to read things into the other person’s words that aren’t there, is a recipe for a fight.
How do you find work-life balance? What things trip you up?
photo credit: Victor1558
I tend to let work follow me. I have a very active brain and I spend so much time at work that I think about it all the time. So when work is frustrating it’s hard for me to let go. I have a hard time going out because I know I have to be up really early to battle the work monster again, and I don’t like my job so it makes it 10x worse.
I like how you vent right when you get home. I should try that. Then it’s not like you NEVER get time to vent about work or talk about your work day in a productive way, it’s just scheduled so you know when you are able to do it and when you can move on.
It really helps me. I have to get the stress out, or else it just drags down my whole night. But having a chance to get it out, and then say “OK, that’s over, now to enjoy my evening!” has been a huge help for me. I hope it helps you, too!
GREAT tips for work-life balance, Em!
I am a big fan of taking breaks at work, including a lunch break away from the office. When I do need to stay at the office over lunch I close my door for a few minutes of quiet time. Of course not everyone has an office with a door and at previous jobs I’ve done just what you do- eat and/or nap in my car! 🙂
I also take an afternoon break every day and go for a short walk. Getting outside and moving my body clears my head. Even better, I often come back to my desk with new ideas how to tackle a problem. These ideas don’t happen when I think about the problem but when I STOP thinking about the problem for a few minutes. 🙂
In addition to the tips you shared I also like to simply stop and take several deep breaths and/or stretch my body throughout the day. Even just rolling my shoulders back and sitting up straight helps me to feel energized and refreshed! Taking mini-breaks brings balance to my day because I don’t get so lost in work that I stop taking care of my mental and physical needs while I’m at work.
I’m also a firm believer that work-life balance isn’t just about the quantity of time I spend working vs. living, but the quality of time I spend on whatever I do. I try to bring a little positivity and fun to work and home and try not to take things so seriously.
Have a grateful day!
I should try those mini-breaks, Chrysta. I’m a pretty tense person, so stretching and deep breathing throughout the day could do wonders for me.
And I love your take on what work-life balance really means. You’re right, we can make both areas of our life better just by approaching them with a more optimistic attitude. Love your spirit! 🙂
So I guess I’m not alone here when it comes to stressing out too much! I tend to overwork myself both at work and then when I get home. I always have this thing where I have to be busy. My husband is the opposite. He works hard and then takes time to relax too. So, what I’ve learned over the past few years is, it is great to work hard but then I allow myself one whole day of totalling relaxing whether it be watching movies all day in front of the TV, reading books, going shopping, hanging out with friends–whatever, I allow myself one day a week to reset and not do any work at all. This works for me. If I don’t do this, I totally get run down and start feeling awful.
Oh, you are not the only one by any means! I think work-life balance is one of the biggest issues the average person faces in our society.
Your idea of taking a whole “relaxation” day is fantastic. We all need time to unwind and unplug from our day to day stress. Especially if you’re a “doer,” you need that break to recharge yourself so you can keep doing throughout the rest of the week! Self-care is a huge part of a happy, balanced life.