Take Back Your Work-Life Balance and Travel More
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 we’ve realized after working a full-time job- we would rather have more time than more money. This change happened in two parts.
The first change was in a new management team that valued a work-life balance. This meant we started to say no to overtime.. and it took us one month to realize the dramatic impact that came along with it.
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 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.
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.
Signs that you’re living to work:
-Work is Prioritized
-You Have Trouble Shutting Off at home
-Glued to Your Phone for fear of missing a work email
If there is one thing we can’t stand – it’s when people tell you everything you’re not supposed to do without giving you any solutions.
So if you’re looking to create a healthier work-life balance – it’s all going to start with your daily habits.
No.1 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.
No.2 Use Your Time Wisely 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. 😉
No. 3 Take Your Vacation Time
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!
A few of our favorite ways to take those much-needed breaks are short weekend trips, choosing smart travel times, and even including day trips!!
no.4 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 we also monitor is how much time we’re 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.
No.5 Don’t Take On Extra Work
If you are struggling at work because you’re not getting things you need on time – talk to your fellow employee. They may be able to help!
If however, you’re constantly taking on the jobs of others – do yourself a favor and stop. Holding your fellow employees accountable creates a much better atmosphere at work, and keeps you from feeling entirely burnt out!! (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!
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Until next time friends,
these are really great (and important) tips… it’s always hard to say NO to overtime, as you get more $$ but i always think you pay for it in stress. thanks for the great reminders to prioritize ME over work sometimes too!
It is slightly scary to read this from a European perspective as it is just sounds like a normal, sensible way to live. We moved from the UK to Canada and I have to admit the reduction in holidays was a bit of a shock… but I can’t imagine moving to the States where it is more normal to work overtime and taken even fewer holidays.
I am glad to hear you found a better way to live, but I wish more people would understand and make this change.
Learning to say “no” to others is sometimes the hardest thing we have to do. But it is freeing and empowering to choose where you will spend your time and energy.
Oof, I feel this! My last job wouldn’t let me say no, and it was incredibly stressful. I felt used and underappreciated. I realized that that was not the job for me and deserved more! Great points in this article. Extra money is nice, but it’s not worth risking your mental and physical health in the long run. As a friend told me, “There are always other paychecks.”