When was the last time you went to the dentist, called your best friend like you swear to do every day or took a day off just because you want to? It has probably been too long.
To strive for a perfectly optimal career and a perfectly optimal life is absurd. Everything worth working hard for, breaks the balance between work and life. In the words of the philosopher Alain De Botton, it is almost impossible to be the perfect parent, the perfect chef and the perfect CEO — it is wise and totally understandable to choose an imperfect variety, balancing work and life, over a flawless focus on only one of them, which you’ll have to pay the price for.
Assuming you’re a hard worker, you probably put most of your time and energy on the work sphere.
There are several explanations for this poor, yet common, habit.
It could be because your boss tells you to. Some bosses demand their employees to give their absolute all, in sickness and in health, and anything less than that is perceived as a major weakness. It could be the high standards set in your workplace, the company’s culture or simply the fact that technology enabled us to read emails while we’re in the toilet.
While these two are external reasons, the most likely explanation is an inner one. Our positive feelings like ambition or the will to prove ourselves, and negative feelings like guilt or anxiety, which makes us work like crazy.
Researchers have found that overworking and the exhaustion it may cause, may have major ramifications on physical and mental health. Overworking, especially working over 12 hours a day may result in loss of concentration and the ability to plan ahead (so it’s actually not recommended you’ll make any judgment calls in your 12th working hour). It causes loss of motivation, stress and anxiety.
On top of that, you spend fewer hours with your family and friends, you don’t work out, you eat junk food, etc. In sum, overworking hurts you and as a result it hurts the company you work for. It does not help you or result in a better output, but the opposite. It’s not that you shouldn’t work hard, but doing it routinely harms you more than it benefits.
This is not a predestination, you can totally control it. Here is some simple and helpful advice to help you manage your work and your time in a more balanced way.
Trying to control time spent working is a real challenge as your office is a click away. There are endless platforms in which your customers or your boss can reach you outside of office hours.
So, to ensure your mental and physical health, try not to check your inbox before you had your morning coffee, brushed your teeth or whatever it is you do when you wake up.
Even glimpsing at your inbox, without replying, counts as mixing ‘work’ and ‘home’ spheres. The world will keep on going even if you’ll respond to an email an hour later.
When you’re at work be at work. When you’re at home be at home. Your close ones will thank you.
Take a couple of minutes, stop your hectic routine and think – what does success mean to you?
For some people success means earning their first million dollars before they reach 30, for others, it means to appear on TED stage and some just want to start a family and spend every night of the week with their children.
Once you’ll define what success means to you, you’ll be able to either make peace with your choice of to working long days or decide to change your routine and put more family hours with your family and friends.
Set Boundaries And Prioritize
People have a tendency to want to finish everything on their list even if it can wait.
It’s 7pm and you’ve only completed half the list. You can either stay and work late in order to finish all of your tasks, or donate your weekend for it, just to get it off your back.
Instead, take a note and a pen and divide your tasks into four: (a) ‘important and urgent’,(b) ‘Important and Not-Urgent’, (c) ‘Not Important and Urgent’ and (d) ‘Not important and Not urgent’. Tasks marked as ‘Important and urgent’ are probably worth the extra hours. Whatever is not important and not urgent can wait until tomorrow or even until next week so just let the things that can wait slide.
Learn To Say No
A lot of us agree on performing tasks our boss or our colleagues asks us to, because we want them to like us or because we feel the need to please them. Deep down we know we don’t have the time to do it but we still agree.
You think saying no comes off bad on the other side? Try it. You’ll be surprised how liberating it is to say NO. People will respect your time when you will. Decide to take on only the tasks you believe you can really help with, or have the time to carry out properly.
Set Life Goals
On everything revolving your career you have plans, you track your cash flow, you know exactly what to do and when to do it. You have goals. However, when it comes to your personal life, you go with the flow and let things happen.
Plan your personal life as if it was your career – decide to go on two vacations this year, to workout four times a week, to start cooking, to meet your sister more. you don’t have to become a chef, or meet your sister five times a week. Remember, it’s all about balance. Set life goals that you can handle and enjoy.
So, Working and having a family life is possible. But there’s a but.
Understand that it’s OK to do everything, and even make mistakes along the way. It doesn’t mean that your’e life has gone wrong, it’s a sign that you are in a wise position – balancing your work and your life.