A recent life event and some comments from a friend reminded me how we try to reach that work/life balance goal and don’t quite seem to ever get there. As it seems that people really are struggling with this, maybe it’s time to revisit the topic?
When Life Trumps Work
I dealt with a family emergency all last weekend. It was my furry family member, but the crisis was just as real. My plans to work and have some downtime were totally disrupted, but that was OK, I did what needed to be done. Critical life events take priority. But that’s different from trying to incorporate personal-life downtime into your schedule.
Weekends are For…?
I’m self-employed, so I work unusual hours and most weekends. Because of that schedule, though, I can hit Costco on a Thursday morning and avoid the weekend hoards. One recent Saturday morning, I called a friend who works a “normal” schedule. He said he and his wife were shoe-shopping (for both of them, in case you went right to the girls-who-shoe-shop stereotype!). Next up was the grocery store and he sounded a bit down and resigned to the day’s plans. But it’s what most people do when not working…
* Childcare/looking after older parents/time with families
* Household maintenance, etc.
Sure, time with family can be fun, but the rest? Not so much.
Carve Out Some Fun Time
When was the last time you took a whole day and just blew off work/chores/family responsibilities? Here’re some hints, since it’s been so long you can’t remember when you last had fun:
* Plan a picnic. With the exception of GPS to get you there, leave the technology at home.
* Throw a party and only invite people you really like.
* Book a hotel room in your own city.
If you’re a conscientious worker bee, you do your job well, put in tons of extra time and don’t even use all your vacation time. For balance, try this:
* Leave work at five.
* Go out to lunch and meet a friend.
* Take two days in a row off (if you insist, one weekend day can be included.)
* Book a massage.
Of course you can’t do this stuff every day, but start doing one thing from that list at least once a month. I think you’ll find your stress will decrease significantly.
Regular Jobacle contributor Nancy LaFever reports that she actually took an entire day off recently. Really.