Between work (both jobs), the gym, nutrition, family, and maintaining a social life, sometimes I’m not sure how I make it through some work weeks. Work is an important part of my life and I take it seriously. Not only because it’s how I make an income, but because it allows me to grow – professionally and personally.
That being said, work doesn’t need to fully consume your life. In fact, in my opinion, it shouldn’t. Obviously, I’m all about balance (hello – Angela’s Balanced Life!), and I used to think that that meant with my fitness, food, and social life. But it’s more than that. Balance is important in all aspects of life, including work. When I have a better work-life balance, I output better work at the office and I’m happier, both in and out of my work.
Sometimes I get the feeling that having a regular, day job is frowned upon these days. So many of the “influencers” floating around social media are trying to make their brand a business. There’s nothing wrong with that, but for me, and I’m guessing most others, it’s not realistic. Most of us go into to a regular, well paying job for many reasons – skill set, stability, income, insurance and a future.
I have an old blog post about the lessons learned from working a 9-to-5, and I still stand by what I said. There’s nothing wrong with working a stable day job. Especially if you’re someone like me that works well with structure.
Work hard, play hard.
In my opinion, without hard work, it’s harder to feel a sense of accomplishment. If you only put in minimum effort, work will surely get boring. Like I said above, I take work my work to heart – it’s a reflection of who I am. So I’m sure to put the time in to get jobs done by (of before) their deadlines. Once I complete a project or meet a deadline, I feel like I can reward myself. Sometimes this is as simple as treating myself to a latte. Other times, I’ll head out of the office early on a Friday afternoon.
Anyone with a day job will tell you that there’s nothing quite as rewarding, or relaxing, than being able to relax on Friday evening and over the weekend. You feel a sense of accomplishment and that you deserve that time to yourself. The same goes for vacation or personal time off. The days leading up to a vacation are going to be busy, but once the vacation starts there’s a sense of accomplishment. I know that for me after the weekend or a few vacation days, I feel refreshed and ready to dive back into my work.
Have a set schedule.
As much as it is possible, maintain as regular work schedule. If you’re hourly, stick the hours you’re meant to be in the office or work with your manager to decide on these hours. If you’re salaried, set working hours for yourself. For me, this helps to be efficient with my workload, while allowing me to also focus on my own hobbies. Of course, be flexible depending on your workload if you have to go in early or work late.
This tip is especially important if you work from home. My job allows me to work from home a few times per week (which comes in handy during the winter months), but I still maintain the same working hours on these days. Sometimes it can be easy to start working right away in the morning and not know when to stop. If you have a hard-pressed deadline, then of course put in the extra hours. But if you can, try and keep track of your working hours while at home.
The other positive to having a set schedule, day in and day out, is maintaining a regular sleep scheduled. I’ve become accustom to going to bed and waking up at the same time – work or no work. Also, make sure you’re taking breaks during the day. Even 15 minutes away from your desk for lunch is better than nothing!
If you’re anything like me, then sometimes you may find yourself dreaming about Excel spreadsheets from time to time. That’s not normal.
When you’re done with work for the day or week, it’s time to disconnect. Do your best not to think about what happened the day or week prior. If you have your work email setup on your phone, consider turning off the notifications for the weekend, if there’s nothing urgent. Prep for the next week late on Sunday night by reviewing your projects and deadlines for the upcoming week, and be ready to start the next week fresh.
Social with co-workers.
One of my favorite parts of about having a day job that I physically go to is socializing with my co-workers. Whether it’s hearing about their family and children or discussing our unhappiness with Minnesota’s winters, it’s nice to have a face-to-face talk with someone.
I’d also encourage people to get involved with work groups or events. Many companies host moral-boosting events or have internal committees and networks. These are great opportunities to meet people in the office that you may not work with every day. Also, do some research to see if your work offers any classes or reimbursement for furthering your education or certifications. This is another great way to meet others with skills that further develop your own.
Whether you go to an office job every day or you work from home, I hope these tips help your own work-life balance.