Balancing our work lives and our actual lives wasn’t always this complicated. In past generations, you clocked out and that was it — you’re done for the day. But in this era of technology, we’re expected to be connected at all times, via email at the very least, if not Twitter and other social media platforms. And then there’s the ever-growing global work movement, when people, like me, work from literally anywhere via a Wi-Fi connection and a laptop.
In some ways, it makes working on the go that much easier and more efficient — you can work from anywhere, answer emails, make lists, plan your days, More and more people have the option of working at home, even a couple days a week, making it seemingly easier to maintain a proper work/life balance. But the new problem is that when you can work at home, from vacation, and when you’re “off the clock,” it blurs those lines between work and life, making it so that you’re never doing just one or the other, but always both.
Maintaining a healthy balance of work and life means knowing when to shut off.
1. Know when you should be unreachable
There are certain circumstances when you should just turn off your cell, close your computer and commit to being unreachable. These circumstances are when you’re on vacation, when you’re out to dinner with friends or family, when you’re at important events, and even when you’re relaxing at home. I, for one, always have my cell on and accessible during all these events, but even I make it a point to save the non-urgent emails and responsibilities for when I can fully devote my time and attention to them.
Make it clear the hours you’re going to be working, and even if you cheat and find yourself working outside those hours (and that’s often unavoidable), give yourself as much allowance as possible to turn off.
2. Reject perfectionism
Having a family life, a social life, and a job means you’re not going to be juggling all aspects of your life perfectly. Allow yourself to say no, make mistakes, learn and grow without putting undue pressure on yourself to perform as a perfectionist. While it’s necessary to perform the best you can at work for a myriad of reasons, perfection is in no one’s reach. The sooner you realize that, the healthier your work life will be, and you may even end up performing better when that pressure is released.
Make a list of things that are absolutely necessary for you to do this week/month/quarter, and then list all of the things that aren’t so necessary. This may include meeting up with college friends you have lost touch with but don’t truly care to see, attending events that you could logically skip, cutting out Facebook and other time-suck websites entirely, and skipping happy hour so you can get home early and cook dinner for yourself.
Necessary events are family events, obviously work events, and things that make you healthier and happier, like daily exercise and cooking healthy meals for your workweek. Know what will add to your happiness and what will just end up being a stressor.