Okay, in this I will use the term “work-life balance” which I feel gets thrown around a lot but makes me feel like if my life isn’t an equal amount of working and fun, that I’m doing it all wrong. It also sounds like another term to compare your schedule to another person’s and that you’re somehow less than if you haven’t achieved this almighty “work-life balance”. From an outside perspective, I don’t have this but I’m also okay with where my life is at now because I know how to look ahead and balance my priorities.
My job is pretty unique. It’s freelance so we get long periods of time off (which are always changing) and work full time when we’re needed. Right now, were almost to the end of the craziest time here at work… awards season.
From the start of December into the first week of March, we work pretty long days and most weekends. It gets pretty hard to have a “work-life balance” but thankfully I enjoy who I work with and I see them outside of work so in a sense, they are both work and my life.
The real struggle comes with balancing wellness and enjoyable down time into all of this. Now that my commute is no longer two hours, I’m not too mad about the longer days I have to spend in the office (#Overtime) and I finally have mornings and evening that don’t feel too rushed. This has allowed me to look at my work days and figure out what is important to me in creating a daily life that I feel satisfied and comfortable with.
I’ve been able to make updates to my realistic morning routine given the amount of time I now have and I sit and enjoy a breakfast most days before heading out to work and write in an actual journal instead of the Day One app. My typical work day includes a calmer morning, long work day which has nothing spectacular to report, and evenings that have allowed me to feel more accomplished and get to bed at a better time without the stress that I’m living each day just working and sleeping. Most evenings I’ll head to the gym right from work and get my workout in and be back to my apartment around 8:30 which is when I would barely be getting off the freeway when I lived at home. I wash up, enjoy an actual dinner, pack my lunch for the next day, and read! On my off days from the gym I’ll clean up my apartment, cook more food for the week, and try to see friends.
Now that I don’t have to worry about getting myself back to Orange County each night, I have also made it a focus to try to go out when I can. Whether this is just going to a friend’s place, grabbing dinner out, an evening drink, or actually going out (something I haven’t really done in forever) I feel great meeting friends of friends and pushing myself to be social and experience new places and things.
While written out this sounds ~so boring~ it’s what currently works for me! I don’t have the freedom to have an extensive morning and night routine but for a person who is at work almost 50% of the day, I’m happy with what I’ve got goin’ on.
But enough about me… here are a few tips to help you feel “balanced” and content with your routine
- Write out your MUST-DOs
To see where you can tweak and plan out your life to one you enjoy living, get the must-dos written down and planned so they’re out of the way and you know what you have left to work with. For me this includes the hours I’m at work, 7-8 hours of sleep, the gym at least four times a week, and some time on Sunday for cleaning up and meal prepping. Once you have these scheduled down, it’s easier to see where you have freetime and not over-schedule yourself.
- Write out your WANT-TOs
Now that you have the must-dos scheduled out, think of everything you wish to accomplish in a week. I say week instead of a day because the thought of cramming everything I want into a day is stressful but I do note the things that I want to do daily. For me, this is the workouts that I want to do, the goal to read daily, have a productive and relaxing morning, watch a movie, and see friends at least once a week. This allows me to make the time to wind down, take care of myself, and see people I care about.
Things that don’t take up extra time that I want to do are eat healthy, I was going to eat anyway so why not make good decisions, read books and articles that truly interest me so I can be spending that time I planned on reading on enjoying it and learning, and move around by doing my planned workouts, stretching, and moving throughout the work day.
- Be mindful of the things you’ve chosen to do
Be sure these things all inspire you and move you forward. I love my job so I don’t mind the long hours there and I know that there is always time off in my horizon. I love what I read and learn so that my mind isn’t only focused on work but on my future self as well. I have a general idea of where I see myself in a few months, next year, and a few years and use my daily routines to benefit those goals. I’m also aware that things pop up and plans suddenly change and I’ve allowed myself the time to become more flexible with my schedule. Everything you do should be because you want to and although some days may be rough, they’re overall enjoyable and beneficial. Don’t force yourself to do something because you feel like you have to because that will only take away time from the things you want to.
- Follow through and focus
You’ve spent this time creating a plan and working out that “work-life balance” so why let this planning go to waste? Follow through with your plan and your goals and if you notice that something is starting to no longer work for you, change it. You, your life, and your goals are always changing so know that your plan doesn’t have to always be the same. Also completely engage in whatever you’re doing whether it be reading, cooking, or working out so you can do it well the first time and save time by not being distracted by your phone and social media.
That’s all I have for creating a “balanced” life. It’s pretty simple advice but it’s what’s helped me take control of my life, enjoy my time more, and actually reduce my anxiety. If you found it helpful or you have any other tips, let me know!