By Krisha Maclang on July 7, 2015
If you want to be successful, you have to hustle. That's pretty much the cardinal rule of achieving your career goals in any industry. You have to put in the time and the elbow grease to succeed. It seems simple enough; do the hard work and it pays off. Proceed to enjoying the fruits of your labor.
The trouble begins when all you seem to do is work but there’s not much enjoyment in your life. You’re finding it hard to balance your personal life and your career, or rather, there's no balance at all. You want to dominate and do well at work but work regularly infringes upon your personal time. Your weekends are devoted to your job and you hardly spend any time with family and friends anymore. You don't have to be a genius to figure out that this will all get old very soon.
What’s the point of working so hard if you can’t even enjoy your life?
It can be hard to find the right balance between work and personal life when you’re new to the workforce but know that it's very important. The part of you that wants to rock at your job can't do it if another part of you is dying from stress.
The key is to build habits that reinforce the right balance between work and play. Here are some tips on striking a good balance between your job and your personal life.
Know what matters
Knowing what matters at your job can save you a lot of time. Instead of wasting so much time on a million little things that don’t really matter, that time can be spent on important work items. Sit down and review all of the things on your to-do list, as well as the random things that eat up your time at work (e.g. spending roughly 30 minutes a day reading blogs). Focus on the important items and cut out whatever eats up your time needlessly.
For example, you’ve been helping a newbie at work with his tasks but find that he depends on you too much that it eats up time for your own projects. Push back on any more favors and trust that your new co-worker can handle himself, so you can prioritize your to-do list.
On the other hand, know what matters in your personal life. Make sure to set aside some free time for friends and family, as well as any interests that excite you. The key to keeping your personal life alive is making sure to schedule time for the people who matter to you and then making sure this time is sacred. The same principle applies for your hobbies and passion projects.
Communicate to your loved ones about your busy work load and include them in planning your free time. They should know about your situation so there aren’t any hard feelings if plans fall apart, and at the same time, make sure to plan activities with them and keep your plans as much as possible.
Don’t forget to spend some of your free time exploring your hobbies and passion projects too. It’s not much of a life if you don’t have activities that interest you. These are the things that will keep you happy when tough times at work roll around.
Respect the time you allot for loved ones and passions and commit to the schedules that you’ve set. If you don’t respect your own schedule, how can you expect other people at work to respect it too?
Health is always wealth
Aside from crucial time management and prioritization skills, it’s also important to make your health a top concern. You won’t be able to put in your best work if you’re constantly sick and exhausted.
Eating fast food meals may be the most convenient option but it’s not going to fulfill your nutritional meals. Avoid eating junk food and instead go for a healthy diet. This will give you more energy and actually feed your body with vitamins and nutrients to keep your immune system in tip top shape.
Make sure you get off your laptop once in a while to get some much needed physical activity. Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods was right when she said that exercise makes you happy. Exercise is not only an excellent way to keep your body strong and healthy, it also releases endorphins, which make you happy and lets you sleep easier.
And as much as you want to maximize the hours of your day, make sure you still get enough sleep. A lack of sleep increases your stress levels, so get in those extra hours for a less stressed you. At least seven hours of sleep per day should be sufficient in giving you your needed rest. Avoid using your gadgets near bedtime because the light emitted by their screens lowers your melatonin levels, which is the hormone that helps you sleep.
Remember, you can spend years and years working hard, but you may not be able to reap the rewards if you’re always sick.
Ditch the superhero act
You cannot do everything alone and you are not expected to do everything alone. Some people think they are busy because they have to do everything at work and will sacrifice everything to get the job done. You don’t have to be the designated martyr or superhero at work.
Part of the reason you’re struggling may be because you’re micromanaging everything. You’re dismayed that you have to do everything yourself, but at the same time, you’re letting people get used to you doing everything. Stand back for a bit and like one of our previous tips, determine what matters to you at work.
You may be trying to do too much, when you can easily delegate some tasks to a teammate or a subordinate. Yes, it can be nerve-wracking to take a chance on someone when you handle crucial projects, but you’re also depriving them of the chance to learn and grow.
Focus on what you can do and work with other people. With more people working on a project, the work load will lighten and you will feel less burdened.
Unplug, disconnect, destress
When you’re constantly on your phone or laptop, it can be hard to resist the temptation to check your emails or work on just one more slide for your presentation. For you to make time for your personal life, you have to make the conscious effort to disconnect from gadgets from time to time.
Being constantly connected to your phone sort of makes you vulnerable to work notifications. When a co-worker pings you, you’ll feel the temptation to read their message immediately. But if you want to truly make the most of your free time, you need to switch off your phone or laptop and be present in the moment.
If you’re going to have dinner with your family, make sure you’re 100% with them. There’s no point in having dinner with them if you’ll just be on your phone checking things off your to-do list at work. You need to take a breather from work concerns and allot more quality time with the people you’re with or doing the things that matter to you.
Never underestimate alone time
Between powering through work and being present in all your family’s get-togethers and friend’s parties, your personal life can also take a toll on you. An important element in having good work-life balance is giving yourself some time alone.
Dealing with people all the time can be exhausting so it’s totally okay to relish solitude when you can. You also need to take a few moments to pamper yourself, listen to your own thoughts, and just tune out all the external sources of stress in your life
But if you do spend some time alone, then make sure you’re actually focusing on yourself and your needs. It doesn’t mean you’re being unproductive if you choose to stay in your room and binge watch your favorite series or read a book. You also need those crucial moments to recharge and renew your energy so you can be ready to take on new challenges again.
There’s no doubt that you should hustle hard to meet your goals and live the life that you want. But make sure that you’re not too stressed or exhausted to enjoy the life that you worked so hard for. It takes a lot of practice but striking a good work-life balance is possible and you can definitely do it without working yourself to the ground.