Tom: The following is a guest post by Monika Tudja, Head of Business Development at Fried.com – a platform dedicated to educating individuals on how to protect their online privacy. As you might have guessed, Monika is passionate about online privacy, cyber-security, and keeping the web ‘free’ for everyone around the globe.
People say that experience is the best teacher, and while they’re mostly right, it certainly would be nice not to have to learn everything the hard way. When it comes to mastering the balance between work and life, this maxim rings particularly true. Striking this challenging harmony is hard – ask any overworked person and they’ll be happy to tell you the same.
The key to avoiding this issue is to be mindful of how others around you deal with it, as well as those who have come before. You can take their experiences as references for what (and what not) to do.
In this article, I’ll discuss the four main mistakes I made in my past, then tell you how I tackled each of them. Join me for a walk down memory lane!
Mistake 1: Waking Up Late
“I’m not a morning person”, goes the cop out. No one likes their alarm going off at 6am, but letting your wake up time drift later and later is not a good idea either. There are many benefits to waking up early and, based on my personal morning routine, I recommend that you use your newfound time to take a shot at the following activities:
- Journaling (during 5-10 minutes). It helps clear your mind, and it gives you a fresh start for the day. Don’t forget to practice gratitude!
- Meditation (10-20 minutes). Meditation has a number of benefits. As for me, it just helps me to relax and focus. If you don’t know how to start, there are plenty of great apps that can help you along the way. For absolute beginners, I’d recommend Headspace.
- Exercise (60-90 minutes). There is no better way to wake up your body and mind than to exercise. Trust me on this one – you’ll feel amazing once you’re done! Just make sure to choose a type of workout or sport that you really enjoy, or you may have a hard time remaining consistent.
Most people are sharper during the early hours and not so much during late nights. That means waking up early increases the amount of time during the day when you’re on top of your mental game.
Even if your schedule is completely messed up, you don’t need to resort to extremes to fix this behavior. Instead, try shifting your wake up time one hour earlier each day until you find your sweet spot (not everyone needs to wake up at 6am). If you manage to stick with it for 21 days, your body will become acclimated to the change, and you’ll have an easier time making it stick.
Mistake 2: Not Going ‘Screen-Less’ for the Night
This mistake becomes more and more relevant with each passing day thanks to our seemingly increasing addiction to technology as a society. Most people cannot bear to be separated from their devices for an extended period, and when bedtime rolls around, the glow of an electronic display is never far away.
This constant exposure to glowing screens can have serious implications for our mental health, quality of sleep, and ultimately our relationships. What’s the solution? Going ‘screen-less’ every now and then. Pick a certain number of days per month to avoid screens as much as possible, and try setting a time limit for your smartphone-related activities once night-time rolls around.
The point is that – just as with waking up late – you don’t need to take drastic measures to fix this behavior. Small tweaks here and there can add up to help you improve your mental well-being, your relationships, and even give you enough time to finish reading that book you’ve been putting off. As for me, I snooze all notifications between 9pm and 8am every day. It’s a simple gesture that enables me to regain some control over my life, and it could be a great start for you too.
Mistake 3: Reacting Emotionally to Work Problems
Every new job brings a unique set of problems with it. How we react in the face of these issues can have an enormous impact on our quality of life, especially if you like to think about yourself in terms of your work, or if you’re proud of what you do (which you should be!). Being too emotional when it comes to your job can give way to chaos when problems do arise.
As cliche as it might sound, responding mindfully instead of reacting emotionally is a great skill to work on. We use the word skill because that’s what this is – something that’s developed over time and through constant practice. The next time the trail gets a bit rocky, take a moment to breathe deeply – in and out – at least ten times, or step outside for a brief walk. The key is to do anything that enables you to recalibrate and get your cortisol under control. Then you can deal with the issue at hand with a clear head.
Finally, if you think mindfulness is some sort of new-age nonsense, give it a try for a few weeks and see if it helps you before passing judgment.
Mistake 4: Undervaluing the Importance of Downtime
We cannot overstate how important this one is. Human beings were not meant to work 24/7 – but you’d think they were, based on many people’s lifestyles these days. Taking some downtime now and then can be critical for your health and happiness, particularly if you’re an introvert. Ignoring your body when it tells you that it’s time to take a rest is the first step on the road to burnout.
Fortunately, the solution to this one is quite obvious – just make sure to schedule some quality time for yourself. This can be hard to pull off in our productivity-obsessed culture, so you need to make it as much of a priority as anything else in your life – because it should be near the very top.
Find something that relaxes you and indulge in it often. It can be golf, getting a manicure, or watching TV for a few hours – whatever works for you. While you’re at it, don’t forget that Netflix queue – Narcos isn’t going to watch itself!
Getting your work-life balance just right is a tricky thing – I certainly haven’t perfected it yet. However, I did manage to find solutions for the worst of my problems, which I’d say deserves a bit of a celebration.
If you also find yourself struggling to get this delicate balance just right, here are the main mistakes you need to be on the lookout for:
- Waking up late constantly
- Spending too much time in front of a screen late at night.
- Reacting emotionally to work problems.
- Not giving yourself enough time to wind down.
What’s your biggest problem when it comes to getting the balance between work and life right? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!
Image credit: wokandapix.