“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them — work, family, health, friends, and spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls — family, health, friends, and spirit — are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.” ―Brian Dyson, former vice chairman and COO of Coca-Cola
Millennials supposedly are all about the work life balance. I’ve heard older generations talk about this like it’s a bad thing. Meanwhile, my husband and I love the idea of a work life balance and think it’s essential to our ideal life. Wanting a work life balance does not make you lazy! It means that your primary goal in life is to be happy and healthy and that overworking yourself does not lead to these things.
When you first begin your career or a new job, it can be really difficult to find a work life balance. During my first two months of teaching, I barely exercised and I stress ate all the time. When my husband started a new job this past January, he felt that he had to work during the weekend to stay afloat. Unfortunately, many people feel this way, but instead of this being a temporary problem, it becomes a long-term issue. Here are my tips on how to find work life balance:
- In order to maximize your chances of having a good work life balance, start by making sure that you are productive and efficient when you’re at work. Set yourself up at work to be focused. Maybe that means closing your office door for a set time each day to have uninterrupted work time. I start my day by making a to-do list, putting the tasks in an order from most important to least important, and figuring out when I will complete the tasks.
- Define work time and free time. Maybe you already have set hours and you know that once you leave work for the day, work time is done and free time has begun. For some people, work time does not necessarily end when they leave work. Some people bring work time into free time as they check their email while watching TV. Others may get caught up doing work tasks on the weekend. Regardless of what typically happens for you, when you leave work, I encourage you to plan your work time and free time for the rest of that day. Some days I leave work and I know that the rest of my day is free time. Other days I leave work and create a plan to balance free time with some additional work time needed. For example, I set a goal of how many papers I will grade or I tell myself that I will work until my husband gets home and at that point, work time is over and free time has begun.
- Set priorities. Never stop doing the things you love and the things that matter to you. I love exercising and I need exercise to keep me happy and healthy. Even when my week is super busy, I make it a priority to exercise. I begin my week looking at my schedule and deciding which 2 days of the week will be my rest days and determine what my exercise routine will be on the other days given how much free time I anticipate having after work. Do I follow through with this plan 100% of the time? No, but most of the time I do. I have placed my workouts in my planner like I put an appointment to get my oil changed.
If you feel like your work life balance is off, don’t be afraid to try something new in your routine. Be patient and know that you can have a good work life balance if you prioritize having one!