For those of you who don’t know, I work in public health – specifically on workplace wellness programs. If you’re still reading, that’s great! If “public health” turned you off, sorry! Anyhow, we focus a lot on the main lifestyle health factors (physical activity, nutrition, smoking, substance abuse, and mental health). Currently, my client is predominantly focused on mental health, which is a terrific initiative with how high stress levels are, along with the rates of mental illness.
One of the most important stress-lowering strategies we promote is “work-life balance”. It’s pretty straightforward in theory – you have to find an appropriate balance between your work and personal life essentially to keep you mentally healthy (sane, happy, productive, etc.).
Obviously, everyone is different in terms of finding this balance, but one thing is for sure, we all have to work (excluding you millionaires and lottery winners) and we all want to have a social life to enjoy. BUT, what differs is where this balance lands for us.
Let me introduce my thought of being “perfectly unbalanced” and how I think it can work. I’m a “yes” person, I never want to turn down a potential opportunity or disappoint someone. This often leads to overloading my schedule and taking on too many tasks at once. But, that’s my type – I’ve always done it and likely won’t stop. Because of this, my balance is unbalanced. For me to feel productive, efficient, and content with myself, I need to feel like I’m working hard and taking advantage of all opportunities. I love the structure of having a full schedule. My work-life scale probably looks more like this:
Is this ok?
For me, yes. For someone else? Maybe not. Something that can make a big difference is if you truly love what you’re doing. That whole saying “it’s not work if you love it” holds a lot of weight here. If your work paradigm is overpowering your personal life but is full of things you love to do, it might feel balanced to you.
Additionally, if you’re trying to establish yourself, your perspective of balance may be shifted. When starting a new career, job, or expanding an existing opportunity, you’ll likely have to log some extra time – which will cut into your personal life. But, when it’s something that you feel passionate about, it won’t seem like a sacrifice at all.
Keeping it manageable
Even if you’re happy with your life balance, some weeks may be more challenging than others. It’s Murphy’s Law that everything picks up at the same time. This was me two weeks ago – new release week was coming up quickly at GoodLife, I had a big project looming at work, article deadlines, and a photo shoot to prep for. Everything hit at the same time.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when these times hit – to the point that small tasks seem too hard to deal with. I’ve found that it’s easiest to start with the small stuff and get it off the list quickly. Often, the small tasks are put off due to the fact that they’re so small, but if you clear them off, you’ll feel better prepared to focus on the larger items. From there, prioritize the remaining items, either by due date or by how long it’ll take you to complete. Obviously, I like working from lists, but that’s just my own preference 😉
Create your own balance
My main point here is to not be afraid of life getting a little unbalanced. As long as you understand your maximum limits, and are truly passionate about what you’re doing, it won’t feel unbalanced. Find something you love and work your ass off to get it. Remember, change happens outside of your comfort zone! Take opportunities when they present themselves to you, but be sure to set aside some time each week to recharge and spend it with people who support you.