Work-life balance is hard, guys. Like really, really hard. Sometimes (especially as a 20-something) it can feel like your whole life revolves around your job, and that’s probably because it does. We grind away to get to the top, and even though there’s success, there’s also a side of under-eye bags that come with it. And quite honestly the only bags we want at this age are Prada and Chloé.
With every job, I keep telling myself something: You’ll have more time for yourself – just after this week. And after that project is done. But then three years fly by and you realize you still haven’t picked back up those hobbies you love because the only hobby you have enough energy to do after getting home at night is watch Netflix.
We’re going to change that. Or at least make an actual, concrete effort to. Ok? Ok.
When you’re working your ass off to impress the people you work with and move up that corporate ladder, it’s hard finding time for you. But because the next thing we know we’ll blink and be 35, let’s make the most of our youth right now. Starting with these steps to finally, actually, really achieve a work-life balance and get rid of stress (and prevent gray hair — the horror!) once and for all.
1. Go to work at a decent time.
Sometimes it’s tempting to go in an hour early just to check some things off your list. But since mornings should be your time to enjoy some peace and quiet before the craziness of the day starts, make sure you don’t give that up too easily.
2. Take a lunch break.
Lunch breaks. What are those? I never used to take them because I felt like I was doing something wrong. But they give us an hour for a reason. Even if you don’t take the entire thing, at least take half of it. Go for a walk, eat lunch in a park — just get away from your desk. Even on days I’m slammed, I still try to make time to get a breath of fresh air and my day instantly gets better.
3. Leave work at a decent time.
Once again, it can be really easy to lose track of time and stay late. The thing I’ve realized about work is no matter how late you stay to try to get things done, it’s never really done. You’re never really caught up. There’s always more to do. By staying at the office until 9 p.m. every night then going straight to bed and starting all over again the next day, you’re basically just going to drive yourself crazy. Leave work before the sun goes down — most of the time those things on your list can wait until tomorrow.
4. Stay off your email and computer after hours.
I’m writing this as I’m on my computer AND checking my email after hours. It’s easier said than done, I know. But even if you can’t stay off completely, at least cut your screen time down and focus more on the people right in front of you. Your emails can wait.
5. Put your phone down. Seriously.
Your phone counts as a screen. Turn it on airplane mode and enjoy a few hours of peace every night. It will save your sanity.
6. Stay off Netflix most weeknights.
This one is especially hard for me, because Netflix and I are like two peas in a pod. BFFs. We’re in love. The only problem is this love can be toxic, and one TV show can quickly turn into five. Meanwhile, I could have been grabbing dinner with friends or going on a walk with my dog. Priorities.
7. Find a hobby you love.
Even if you love your job, still make sure you keep up with your hobbies. Whether it’s music, writing, working out, cooking, or reading, don’t stop. You’ll regret it if you do.
8. Call your friends. Better yet, spend time with your friends.
It’s too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget about the people you’ve been neglecting. Sometimes I realize an entire month has passed since I’ve had a real conversation with my closest friends. Days blur together in the working world, so make sure you take a step back and keep your relationships strong.
They say we need eight hours for a reason. On nights I stay up too late, the next day is almost always miserable. I’m not fully there, I’m grumpy, and I’m not doing my best work. Part of having work-life balance and making sure you treat your body the way it should be treated so you can get the most out of your days. Being groggy won’t help.
If you want to be the best you can be at work, you have to be the best you can be in general. That means taking time for yourself, replenishing yourself, and making sure your wellbeing and sanity are in check. If you can’t do that, something needs to change. Rethink stressful jobs, bosses who don’t treat you like you should be treated, and co-workers you don’t enjoy being around. Is the money worth your happiness? Being able to afford designer bags is cool, but most likely not.
We only get one life, so don’t waste it away being unhappy or stressed… even if that means you get a raise. Because raises and cool perks aren’t fun unless you can actually enjoy them. Don’t look back on your twenties wishing you wouldn’t have spent the best years of your life slaving away. Find your balance and I promise your mood and quality of life will change quicker than you think.