Unless you really love what you do, most of us can relate to feeling like our work life is having a serious impact on a personal level. Sometimes it’s a good thing but, too often these days, it’s overwhelmingly negative.
Part of this stems from the fact we’re working longer hours (even from home on the weekend) and are desperate to establish some sort of work/life balance. This is tough, unfortunately, due to the fact that modern technology makes it easy for our bosses to track us down almost anywhere. Without iron-clad boundaries, a demanding career can eat away at the time we need to restore, recharge and relax.
If you’ve found yourself feeling this way, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. Most of us are trying to find a happy medium between earning a living and living a life. If you are struggling, you may find these five suggestions helpful.
1. Stop Hating Your Job
Yes, this is easier said than done but our attitudes have a lot to do with our level of happiness. Does this mean that you can’t make other changes in the long run? Absolutely not. What it does mean is that, in the meantime, you should stop commiserating with your fellow job-hating coworkers, stop wallowing in your misery, and focus on how to make your environment a little more hospitable. It’s difficult, there’s no doubt about it, but if you can improve things in your mind everything else will be a lot easier.
2. Stop Wasting Time
You might be shocked by how much time you actually waste at work. Then, with an hour left in the day, you’re scrambling to get things done and you leave feeling frazzled and overworked. If you take a critical look at how you’re spending your time, you may discover that a lot of it is wasted. Are you often checking your phone? Are you distracted by interpersonal drama? Do you participate in workplace gossip? Are you on social media? Any of these things can throw your work schedule off track.
Even if you curb that sort of behavior, you will waste time and energy if you don’t have a plan for getting things done. At the end of every work day, make a note of what was left undone, what needs to be completed (and when) and any communication that needs to take place. When you get in the next morning, look at the list and create a plan of attack. You will feel 100 times more productive!
3. Start Exercising
It doesn’t feel good to be sedentary. Even people who hate exercise will often admit that they feel so much better physically, mentally and emotionally when they regularly get their bodies moving. Committing to regular activity can help improve your attitude towards work and your personal life.
If, however, you find yourself resenting your work schedule because it makes it difficult to find time to exercise, it’s even more important to find way to get it done. Be sneaky about it, if you have to. Instead of taking a 30-minute walk, take three 10-minute jaunts. You might have to get creative but it will be worth it.
4. Start Taking Breaks
It’s a terrible trend but many of us have stopped taking breaks and we often eat lunch at our desks. That’s no way for a human to live. Clearly, we feel as though we need to do this to either finish all of our tasks or impress our supervisors but, ultimately, this will only affect your morale and productivity.
Make the choice to take a 10-minute mid-morning and mid-afternoon break and use whatever time you are given for lunch to get away from your desk. Pack a lunch so that you don’t spend your time hunting down food. Bring a book, listen to music, and/or go for a walk. Your body and your mind needs to power down and recharge. You will probably discover that you return to your work feeling refreshed and better able to problem-solve.
5. Start Something New
If all else fails, find a new job. A change of scenery, pace, duties, or title might be exactly what you need. Be smart about it, though. Start looking and come up with an exit plan well before you’re feeling the urge to just pick up and quit. Unless you are in an abusive or dangerous situation, transition gradually and in a way that will not burn bridges, if possible. Years from now, you will be grateful for how you handled yourself.
Maintaining a healthy balance between work and life can be tricky but it is entirely possible. What strategies have you used to prevent your career from taking a toll on your personal time?