When I wrote my blog post on my tips and tricks to stay motivated and productive, I had never dreamt of the response it would get. While I am no expert, people seemed to enjoy that blog post and I like sharing what I have learned by sharing my experiences. If there is one thing I struggled with when I first hit the job market was balancing my job and my personal life. Working a job was very different from doing a full time study course, with several jobs on the side. While busy too, I quickly realized that doing the same thing for 40 hours a week requires a very different way of structuring my life. Here’s what I realized and what I did to maintain a good work/ life balance.
Work/ Life Balance | How to manage & tips
The first realization I had was that work can simply suck everything out of you. Where I was used to getting more back in return when I was at university, I found that work would often leave me feeling drained as I was ‘on’ 100% of the time. At uni, I could easily unplug and divide my day the way I wanted. At work, with a busy job as a teacher, it proved incredibly difficult to do that. And so I had to become a quick learner.
Part of that process was incredibly difficult. Some part of it is work related, but part of it also came from how I dealt with work. I pushed myself too hard, which just wasn’t healthy. I quickly came to the conclusion that I am someone who likes to work, but it is not my end game. I love doing what I do and it is helpful that I can pay my bills in the mean time. However, working to work is not really something I strive for.
Having gotten that out of the way, it became easier to make choices that helped my work/ life balance. So first try to figure out what you want and need from your job, but also life. I like being able to travel and do lots of other things on the side. I know I need a job that allows me to do that or where I at least have the freedom to do that.
For example, I work 4 days a week, not 5. That extra day off allows me to stay sane most of the time. It allows me to unplug during crazy times at work, but it also allows me to blog and make youtube videos. Additionally, it enables me to workout more, meet with friends and family and pursue other things I enjoy besides work.
Of course working fewer hours isn’t going to be possible for everyone: each job is different and has different requirements. It is then important to focus on those aspects that you enjoy as well. Not just outside of work, but also within the job you do. Try to find parts of your job or a job in general that you enjoy doing. Whether that is working in IT or an office job or working in a nail salon: if you do something you enjoy, then work will be less taxing.
That said, despite loving my job as a teacher, I have worked at different schools and not all of them were the right fit for me. So that I think is another important aspect to maintaining a good balance between work and your personal life. You can enjoy the work you do, but are you also working at a company that allows you to get the best out of yourself? I personally find that of great added value to my working life.
Apart from these tips there are other things you can do too. In education, there are large peaks in workload coinciding with crucial moments for students. That adds lots of pressure and takes a lot of overtime to manage all the tasks. Despite only contracted for 4 days, I easily clock in 50 hours a week during peak times. How I deal: these periods mostly coincide with vacation time afterwards and I try to leave a little early, work from home, or come in late at times when work is a little slower.
Again, that doesn’t mean that this is possible everywhere, but the point I’m trying to make is to try and compensate where you can, if you can and plan your work wisely. Another crucial point, depending on how you wish to organize your life of course, is to sometimes say no. No to that extra meeting, no to answering every e-mail before the weekend or no to always taking the lead on that new project.
But the same goes for your personal life: say no to that party with people you don’t like, leave early if you’re tired and accept that FOMO is not beneficial to you or anyone else. The main point is that you find out what works for you! If there is one thing I learned, there is no one in this life who is going to look out for you, except you. Find what makes you happy and start applying that to your work and personal life!
How do you maintain your work/ life balance?