Maintaining a healthy work/life balance
Evelyn gives her advice on getting enough downtime outside work
Written by Evelyn Coffin
Voices - Advice
Young people share advice based on their experiences.
A healthy work/life balance is when you prioritize both your work and your life outside of work equally, and these days, that can be pretty difficult. There’s pressure on everyone in both directions: you should work late in order to get a project done, but you should also want to grab a drink with your coworkers, or spend more time with your family. There’s really no winning, so here’s the best advice I can give you: know yourself. Only you can tell if there’s something pressuring you into doing too much, and, if there is, it’s up to you to change it. Below are just a few more tips that could help you find the balance you need between your work and the rest of your life.
1. Declutter—and be honest.
I mean everything: office, house, calendar, inbox, friends list. Tidy it up! Cleaning your desk or room can help you be focused and organized. Cleaning out your email inbox—and setting specific times when you can check your email—can help you feel like you’re not overwhelmed with work. And, keeping up with interactions that we don’t enjoy can stress us out—so, if there’s a club you don’t want to be in, or a coworker you don’t like, you don’t have to stay put and be miserable. Decluttering is about being honest, too, and if you’re honest with yourself about what you don’t need, it’ll be easier to get rid of it and the stress it causes.
2. If you’re a scheduler, build some time in to relax.
So much of what we do is habit—checking that email, attending that meeting every week—that it’s easy to become attached to a schedule. That’s good: being organized is important. If you are one of the schedules and you need more incentive to, well, take a break, add an hour or three of free time into your schedule every week, and see where it leads you. It could be the difference between a rough work week and a good one.
3. Keep work and home physically separate.
When you’re home, be at home. At work, be at work. If you can avoid it, try not to bring your work home with you, and vice versa. Keeping the two in their respective places can help you relax when you’re at home, and stay focused when you’re at work. If you do have to bring your work home, try to have a certain place where you always do it—at a desk, for example, and not in bed or someplace you relax.
4. Similarly, turn those devices off!
Staying connected can be important, but if your cell phone is bringing your work into your pocket more often than you’d like, it might be time to switch it off. It will help, too, not to answer every email the second you get it, or to keep checking your phone for notifications, as this can be distracting and stressful. If your friends are always texting you in class or at your job, it can have the same negative effect. (Also, it’s good to turn those devices off before bed, because the blue light your devices give off may make it harder to sleep and damage your health.)
5. Try to stay physically healthy too.
Get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of water, and get plenty of exercise. Work is never more important than your physical or mental health. Studies have also shown that just being outside in nature can decrease stress and make us happier. So take a nice walk outside, and take your water bottle along with you, and then take a nap, and you’ll have made yourself healthier already.
6. It’s the little things.
If you find yourself feeling that you’re caring too much about one thing or the other, listen to that voice. It’s talking to you for a reason. Take a step back, analyze what’s going on, and figure out what you need to do to adjust. And sometimes, it really is the little things: even small changes can help us regain our balance. Try packing a lunch instead of buying; leave work an hour earlier once a week; read a book or listen to music; buy a new outfit; make a new friend; take deep breaths, and remember, always, to take care of yourself.
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