When I put away my smartphone and don’t check emails or WhatsApp for some time, I often begin to feel guilty. What if someone needs to reach me we with an urgent task to be done for my university or my work? What if today I have a deadline about which I completely forgot? Could I stay focused on a book or a movie when I don’t remember what else is on my checklist? I must admit that keeping healthy work-life balance seems very difficult for me, and I know I am not alone in my struggles.
We live in a world of never-ending possibilities and, generally, I consider it to be a very positive phenomena which allows us, when we are ready to work hard, to develop our potential and fulfill our dreams. However, in reality, some serious disadvantages might appear, too. We do not know what to prioritize and find ourselves frustrated, especially comparing our achievements with those of the others. Although I’m far from being an expert, I discovered a few ideas which are helpful in trying to maintain work-life balance.
Putting first things first
“Things” in this case mean “people”. What I realized recently is that my biggest regrets are about spending too little time with people, not about missing an academic or job opportunity (though, here with my present knowledge I would make some improvements, too). This is particularly striking when a dear one passes away, and you know it is no longer possible to make up a lost time.
Something that always helps me a lot is making checklists. It’s easiest to do them on a weekly basis because it helps to plan out the tasks for each day and at the same time keep track of what I have left and how much free time I can afford. Writing down things ‘to do’ makes me stop thinking about them and stressing about forgetting something. Then I see how good organization helps to set aside a space where I don’t plan any tasks and where I learn to relax without remorse.
This is the point I always have the biggest problem with. It seems like you can’t put social media addiction in the same category as drug or alcohol addiction, but it also takes away our freedom in a way. True rest is when I don’t have to check all my inboxes and know that no one will get hurt because of me being offline. Traveling to a place with poor or no Internet connection is an extreme challenge for me, but when I once let myself go for as long as 10 days to such an area, I felt calm and tranquil like never before.
Letting other take control
Often do I have the impression that when I’m working in a group and I’m in charge of a project, then I have to constantly check the work, see if everyone is doing well and if anyone needs help. I’m afraid that if I’m not careful, something will go wrong and I’ll be responsible for it. However, I realize that this is not possible in the long run, and both for my mental health and for the sake of the whole team, I have to let others take control and demonstrate maximum trust.
Finding balance is essential to the well-being of ourselves, our bosses and colleagues at work (or college), and our loved ones. While effort is commendable, we must always keep in mind the goal, which cannot be limited to just a career.