Having a work-life balance is pretty much a foreign concept in the United States. Saying no to overtime? Almost unheard of. With many of our daily stressors revolving around time and money, financial stressors have the power to be incredibly overwhelming. In an article from the 2016 scientific journal ‘Stress & Health’, Robert Sinclair and Janelle Cheung studied the impact of financial stress on mental and emotional health:
‘Money is arguably the most important resource derived from work & the most important source of stress for contemporary employees. A substantial body of research supports the relationship between access to financial resources and health & well being.’
If there is one thing I’ve realized after working a full-time job- I would rather have more time than more money. For me, this change happened in two parts. The first change was in a new management team that valued a work-life balance. This meant I started to say no to overtime.. and it took me one month to realize the dramatic impact that came along with.
When did your work-life balance fall out of whack?
Let’s take a moment to consider this. When someone asks us what we want to be when we grow up, what are typical answers? Many times as children age their dreams of being a frog, a unicorn, princess, etc. morph into pragmatically sound careers. Their careers will hopefully financially support them, bring prestige, and give them the means to ‘do life’. Consider, though, how infrequently we hear answers that surround being well-read, spiritual, well-traveled, good spouses, or artists, pioneering in the sciences or archaeology? After exploring avenues that light our souls on fire and bring us fulfillment.. do you think we’re losing touch with these paths?
The answers to the well-worn question, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’, are the fleeting answers of afraid people. That’s what so many of us are trained to do; worry about our financial futures, and to ‘avoid stress’ by making the smart and pragmatic life decisions at 17. These decisions often time only end up physically feeding us and putting roofs over our heads.
Am I suggesting that we enter an era of chaos and hungry hippies? No. It’s clear that we need to have dignity in hard work because work also provides other necessary things like structure, respect for authority, time management, etc. The fear I have is that our society, especially in the US, is too preoccupied with corporate ideals of success. We’ve ignored the need for work-life balance.
The question I have is: Are you working to live or living to work?
If you read that question and then started remembering all of the times you worked and missed something important… you’re not alone, but you might be eventually?
Is that harsh? Probably. Is it true? Probably. You’ve heard it a thousand times. ‘When you’re old you’ll regret not spending more time with family’ etc. But does a discussion of how to not work too much ever actually occur?
This is one of my pet peeves; someone point’s out a problem and then after they’ve graced you with their opinion, doesn’t discuss a different mindset to bring about healthier outcomes? Anywayssss.
-Work is Prioritized
-You Have Trouble Shutting Off at home
-Glued to Your Phone for fear of missing a work email
Say No To Overtime
This is my biggest and most important tip. I’ve heard people say they can’t pass up over-time because of x,y,z and you know what? They were right – only if they continued to live a certain lifestyle. Working full time, and living within your means is a subject we could go on and on about. (This doesn’t include people who are struggling to literally live. I’m talking about people who are out of touch with the difference between needs and wants.) You already know you should be prioritizing the more important things. You are not, with some exceptions, REQUIRED to take overtime. Keep in mind also there’s a big difference between being dedicated to small businesses and helping out good people, vs. working overtime for a corporate machine that doesn’t care. In the long run, a big corporate machine will not care how many hours extra you put in. Many times they set impossible standards that subliminally encourage an unhealthy work-life balance.
Make the best of your time at work
If you have a job where you’re not supervised 24/7 – it’s up to you to make the best use of your time so that you don’t have to work crazy long hours and get things done. Work smarter not harder. 😉
Take Your Vacation Time
Â If you’ve said to yourself, ‘I could really use a break but I can’t leave right now’ – then you most likely have not used the vacation time you’ve earned in the best way. I’ll be posting soon how I make the most of my vacation time including planning hacks to make your trip seem much longer!
Sort Your Emails
No matter what email software you have – your inbox should not be stressing you out. You can create rules, folders, and set reminders that take approximately 2 minutes to set up and make life so easy. In general, automating any tasks that you can is the Millenial version of ‘outsourcing’ tasks that you should not be wasting time on. (This is something you can also do from your couch while you’re watching TV – it’s my favorite mindless activity to keep myself productive!) One thing I also monitor is how much time I’m wasting on social media. You can get a lot done at home so things aren’t hanging over your head if you’re willing to stop scrolling.
Hold your fellow employees accountable
Â If you are struggling at work because you’re not getting things you need on time – talk to your fellow employee. They may need help! If they’re just a lazy sack of bones – discuss it with your team leader. You should not be penalized for the mistakes of others. (It goes without saying that you should be completing your work on time and to the best of your ability so that you don’t make others jobs harder!)
Share the need for Work-life balance
It’s kind of weird to look at your friends and say: You work too much. But when your friends look tired, and they’re grumpy all the time… it’s worth a conversation. If you don’t think you can verbally say it – feel free to just casually share it to your Facebook page for them to see! lol subliminally throwing out a vibe that ‘we all struggle with this sometimes’ is the best way sometimes to get a point across. People don’t always like to be told they’re not quite right but they do want to know that their friends care!