Finding Balance

Lets face it – adulting can be hard and maintaining a healthy work-life balance can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope. This balance can become even more challenging when you add school to the mix and suddenly need to find a work-school-life balance.

I can say that this is something I struggle with, especially this term. I took on a difficult Capstone project where I have to learn a lot to accomplish it (I covered this in my last blog post here if you are interested). But not only did I take on a project that I knew I would have to put a lot of time into, but I also have a desire to produce a final project that not only meets the basic requirements but also goes above and beyond because this will not only be a potential portfolio project for me but it will definitely be for my teammates so I feel the pressure to not let them down. This means that on top of working full-time and accomplishing necessary tasks like feeding myself, I have to spend a majority of my free time on this project which leaves little time for hobbies or stress relieving activities.

I would like to say that this is something I only have to deal with until the end of this term but I know it is not, this is life, there will always be something. So, recently I have decided to really prioritize finding ways to have a better work-life balance no matter what I am dealing with and find ways to maintain this even after this term.

I have read or been told many pieces of advice to help find balance and most of them are things I have heard many times before such as setting priorities or learning when to say “no” , and while those are great pieces of advice, I wanted to touch on a few I am actively working on.

Cut Corners

Yeah, I said it, cut corners. Not at your job or on your Capstone! I am by no means telling you to be a slacker but instead, find things in your life that are taking up time that does not need to. For example, up until recently, I have been adamantly against doing grocery pick-ups because I felt like it would have been me just being lazy but that is far from the truth.

I remember someone telling me once that there are 2 types of grocery shoppers, hunters and gatherers. Hunters know what is on their list and they fly through the store and get everything they need without getting distracted. And then there is me, a gatherer, who likes to walk up and down every isle looking at all the new products that I may want to try. I have no rhyme or reason to the order in which I shop through the store and so if you tracked my path it would seem very random. As much as I am aware that this is the type of shopper I am, I am also aware that it takes up precious time that I am already struggling to regain for activities that bring balance to my life.

I cannot will myself into being a hunter, trust me I have tried, so to regain the time I spend in the store I have given in to putting placing my grocery order and just going to pick it up. This saves be about 45 minutes, the exact amount of time I need for a walk with my dog which is a more enjoyable task.

So just start with one thing that you can stop doing, change the way your doing, or delegate to someone else that will give you some more time in your week. The most important thing is to not let that time become available time to be filled by someone or something else that does not bring balance!

Which leads into…

Don’t allow free time to be available time

I keep my work and school schedule neatly outline in my calendar so when I see free time it is easy to fill those empty slots with things even when they bring stress and not joy. I have been trying to remind myself that just because I have free time does not mean I should make it available time to be filled.

A recent change that helped was learning to respect my own time more when it comes to work. I am supposed to be off work at 4pm and I may not have anything on my calendar until 6pm so I used to be in the habit of working late because “I had the time” but I recently started forcing myself to be off right when I am supposed to; things will still be there in the morning. This not only has given me my precious time back but my boss (who does not want us to get burnt out by working excessive hours) actually complimented me recently on making this transition and said they think I am happier. If other people are noticing also, it most definitely made an impact.

This change has allowed me the time to do a stress relieving activity several days a week, such as a session of yoga or cooking, before I transition into school work.

Have a timeframe by which to judge the balance

I think on of the most dangerous traps we fall into is always thinking that we will get to enjoy things when something specific happens such as retiring or kids going to college. Mine has been “I will get to have a life as soon as I graduate”; but I know better, something else will come up and then it will be “…as soon as I get moved”, then “as soon as I get a new job”, then “…as soon as I get comfortable in that job”, and on and on until so much time has passed that I have not felt a sense of balance in years or decades.

It is hard to find a balance on a day-to-day basis because sometimes things just have to be done, but thinking in the long-term can also make it easy to continue pushing off. Instead I have decided on trying to feel like I have a sense of balance when judging that balance in the course of a week. I know some weeks are busier than others but generally, at the end of the week I need to be able to reflect and feel like I was able to get the things done that needed to get done but I had time for things I enjoy. This means I have scheduled out things I NEED to do on my calendar, such as work or school, and then make sure I blocked out enough time time during the week to do something for me, whether that is working out or just watching Netflix.

To be honest I am not doing great with balance this term and that may be due to perfectionism. I feel a large sense of responsibility to not let my team down at work and to not let my Capstone team down as well. Despite this, I have made some small progress and sometimes that is all we need to eventually make big changes.

I wish you all the best in finding balance!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *