Learning the Fine Balance of Life and Work
No matter what business you’re in, the line between work and life can be smudged extremely easily. With all of the ways we stay connected 24 hours a day, such as smartphones, Internet, and email, we can easily start to lose focus of that line. For many people, especially those that work remotely or that need to stay connected 24 hours a day, they may not even realize when they have crossed that line. This is why everyone needs to learn how to balance their life and their work separately.
Working 9 To 5
While the old song rang true 30 years ago, it may not be quite as true today. There are not many people who work a 9 to 5 job any longer. These jobs now bleed over into our personal lives, where our bosses call us at all hours of the night or employees have no fear of calling us at home to discuss anything they feel. Working hours are becoming all the time hours, and without a line between your work and personal life, it won’t take long until you start to feel the burn.
Burn out, that is, and if you don’t do something to put that line back, you will quickly realize that you aren’t happy. For people that really do love what they do, burning out can be a horrible thing. But being connected 24 hours a day will blur that line between personal time and work time, making every waking hour seem like you’re at work. No rest, no downtime, no “getting away”, without a break you will start to resent every time that phone rings. So how do you keep from burning out? You learn the fine balance of personal and work time.
Balance 1: Work Time
Get out that fancy smartphone in your pocket or your purse and head over to your calendar app. Sit down with this app open, and block out the hours that are in your schedule for just work. It doesn’t matter if this is 9 to 5 or 8 to 4, or any other hours that you might work in your field, block it out. One of the easiest things I’ve found is to color code it with a light color that won’t interfere with other appointments. You can then have a very plain view of when you’ll be at work and when you won’t. During those hours, you want to only deal with work issues – whether that is doing your job or dealing with anything job related. No planning out what you’re doing after work, no scanning the web for vacation deals, and just keeping your mind focused on the task at hand.
Just like a professional baseball game, you have a set time for all of the innings in your game. Those are the set hours in your day that you have to play your game, to build your career, to hit home runs. Once those hours are over, it is time to unplug. That is where the second part of your balancing act comes into play.
Balance 2: Play Time
Once you know what set hours are in your day for work, the rest are all for you. Of course, everyone needs to sleep a bit, but you also want to ensure that you set up special “me” sessions that allow you to unwind from the day and release your mind from your job. For some people, this can mean an hour at the gym on an exercise bike. For others, it means a hot bubble bath. For me, it means a long walk outside, preferably in the woods or on the hiking trails. No matter what it is that calms you, relaxes you, and helps you to unplug from work – do it. If you can’t find the time for a hour long jaunt somewhere after work, maybe you have to pick up kids or fix dinner, then make sure that you take the time each night to just sit and relax for a moment. Have a glass of iced tea, enjoy a book, watch your favorite show – just take time.
Again, professional ball players know that at the end of the ninth inning, the game is over. They head to the dugout and gather their gear to head home. They know once that game ends, whatever they did in that game is over. Once they leave the ball park, they may still have the game on their mind, just like you might with work, but they also know that they need to step back and shut off the game mindset. Eating, sleeping, and breathing baseball can be fun for a little bit, like any career you love, but eventually it wears you down.
I like to use the baseball analogy with all my clients when we’re talking about balancing work and life simply because everyone understands how a baseball game works. When the game is going, it’s really going. People are cheering, decisions are being made that can make or break a score, your team members are working their rears off to win. Yet, when the game is over, it’s over, everyone goes home. There are no do-overs and there’s always tomorrow.
Jason Monroe loves to get away and relax after a long day at work. He understands that balancing work and personal time is key to a happy person both in their job and at home. He spends his off time hiking, playing sports, or working out and enjoys some of the best bikes that his gym has to offer.
Further Reading on Work Life Balance