14 Aug Work and Life: A Balancing Act
Everybody’s working for the weekend, sung rock band Loverboy. This was mostly true in 1981 when Loverboy penned their infamous rock anthem. Now it’s not so clear-cut. The modern work environment is uber-convenient and invasive to personal time. You’re working on the weekend instead of for the weekend. No balance.
Do you sometimes look at the clock and wonder how it got to be 8pm when it seems like you were just thinking about lunch? Being able to turn off so that you can recharge and refresh is crucial to your mental and physical health. Plus, there really is just more to life.
Hard to Turn Off?
Work from home options and flexible schedules lend creativity and autonomy to many work environments. However, working at home and not being held to a strict 8 to 5 schedule can make it hard to know when to end the work day and start personal time.
Additionally, many clients that I work with express that working from home gets lonely and depressing. Reasons stem from overwork to being inside their home all day without seeing anyone. Office chatter can be unproductive, yet it does foster connection and lively distraction.
And we can’t forget the damn smart phone. It keeps us connected to the job at all hours. These devious devices wreak havoc with work/life balance. For most, work email and texts are constantly in hand. Jolting us to attention when work pings.
The Research: Work/Life Balance is Challenging
If any of this sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. In fact, RAND recently surveyed approximately 3,000 U.S. employees about their job demands and work environments. Overall findings suggest that the American workplace is very physically and emotionally stressful for both workers and workers’ families.
Approximately 50% of those surveyed reported that they bring work home and work during personal time to keep up with job demands. Company culture that expects employees to be very available are widespread.
Working long hours under tight deadlines leads is dangerous because it can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety. Over time, sleep, time with loved ones, and health is negatively impacted. Eventually, issues such as burnout, depression, and heart disease arise.
Therefore, learning how to balance work and personal life in this very connected world is a must! As the old saying goes, All work, no play, makes Jack a dull boy. So while I don’t mean slack, I do mean learn how to not be Jack. Little changes can make a difference quickly.
Work/Life Balance Practices
- Go to Lunch. During the work day, leave the building. Take a co-worker or go alone. Eat a lunch that you brought from home in a park or treat yourself at a restaurant. AND…leave the smart phone in the car.
- Alarm Clock. Use an old-fashion alarm clock. Many of us use our smart phone for our alarm clock. No need to let work electronically enter your day the minute your eyes open.
- Resist the Over-Commit. Be honest with yourself about what you can accomplish in a work day. Assess your schedule before saying, “Yes.” Otherwise, you will be doing beautiful graphs and coming up with innovative ideas instead of enjoying loved ones.
- Unplug on Days Off. Turn off your phone. If you must be accessible, at least turn off your email app. If that freaks you out, at least turn off the notifications. Unplug completely on vacation.
- Set a Time Limit. If you must work during your day off, set a 1-2 hour time limit then stop and focus on people you love and activities that bring you joy.
- Plan an Activity on the Weekend. Plan activities ahead of time. For example, buy tickets to a concert, game, or movie during the time at work that you usually browse social media. It’s hard to plan something fun on Saturday morning when you’re exhausted or overwhelmed by chores.
If you are having a hard time with new balance behaviors, seeing a therapist can be a great first step. Call or email me to schedule a 30-minute consultation with me via the phone or in person. Together we can figure it out!
Kate Murphy, LMSW
Kate Murphy, a therapist in Chamblee, GA, specializes in helping you decrease stress and anxiety. You can live a more balanced, connected, and meaningful life. Kate works with individuals and couples over the age of 18 to support healing, communicating, and experiencing joy more often.