These last few years I feel like I've seen a lot of people on two sides of the work force, those that put their head down and work till they're sore, and those that do just enough to get by in their jobs. On that rare occasion you can find those magical people who manage this amazing work-life balance where they work hard, but can also truly enjoy their non-work life. I've always been an intense worker. Staying late, taking on extra projects, and checking my emails obsessively even on my downtime.
This May I took a whole new job, something totally different than what I've done so far in my life, with a company that is still growing, which means things are changing almost hourly. It's been challenging, and about a month ago I've realized that I need to learn that whole work-life balance thing. I've bought into the idea that you're only a good worker if you're obsessing 24/7 about your job, but I've realized that all that really does is burn you out to the point where you just want to walk out the door. You can't be a good worker if you're ready to quit at any moment, so it's better to take some time for yourself so you can focus on your work when you're there.
This past month has been a huge learning lesson in how to disconnect and enjoy my off-time. Here's a few things I've learned, for anyone else finding themselves in the same boat.
IGNORE THOSE EMAILS
yep. I know, it feels impossible, and maybe you even feel guilty too. Start with just nights. Check everything before you leave work, and then promise yourself you're going to ignore it until the next morning. Remind yourself that it's only a few hours, and theres nothing dire that's going to happen over the period of just a few hours. If you're feeling guilty about it, or worried that your boss might wonder why you're not responding to them in 5 minutes, just talk it over with them. I'm lucky to have an awesome boss who is really supportive of me finding a good balance. She knows that if there's anything that does need to be responded to ASAP that she can text me. Now I know that I can ignore that quickly filling up inbox and not feel super guilty.
MAKE PLANS, OR START A NEW HOBBY
It's a lot easier to disconnect when you're hanging out with friends, or just plain doing something. Maybe if you're like me, you've let yourself get too involved in work for a while and now it feels like you don't even know what to do with your free time. Start a new hobby or pick up an old one. My weekends these days consist of working on the house (which I've desperately been needing to do anyway), and finally getting back to blogging. I'm also making more time to read, and can't wait to get back into sewing this fall. Keeping yourself busy really helps in those first few weekends you're trying to learn to find a balance and not obsessively check your phone for work.
SCHEDULE SPECIFIC "WORK TIME"
I know, I know, we're supposed to be disconnecting, but sometimes it's hard! Especially at first. That's okay, but make sure when you do decide to work on "off time" that you're being thoughtful and deliberate. Schedule when you're going to do a little work, and give yourself a specific amount of time to do it. Set an alarm, and make yourself stick to it. Doing this can also help you put all those crazy work thoughts out of your brain once the timer goes off, and only focus on things that are truly important enough to disturb your "you" time.