More and more, the blur between work and regular life increases. With the amount of technology literally in our hands, in the form of smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc., we are much more frequently “in touch” and reachable anytime, anywhere. In many jobs, this is a good thing. For instance, I work for a disaster relief organization, and when a disaster hits, day or night, week day or weekend, I am able to be reached. That is a good thing in this situation, but not so much for the average person in a non-emergency type position.
For many others, the typical nine to five day is a thing of the past. People are now so quickly reachable via text, email or phone wherever they are, and so work or the feeling of work follows everyone. In an effort to stay secure in the job, people are often putting in extra time from home when reached, even though the immediate need may not be there in every situation.
Psychologist Robert Brooks, PhD, co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life, has this to say:
A lot of people are having a more difficult time finding balance in their lives because there have been cutbacks or layoffs where they work. They're afraid it may happen to them, so they're putting in more hours.
Because many people are always within quick reach, it can become harder to see the separation of work and life, and the balance can get lost in the blur. It is important to keep a balance in order to avoid burn-out, so here are a few tips and suggestions to achieve this:
Building “downtime” into your busy schedule ahead of time is often essential. We all have every intention of spending quality time with friends or family, but next thing you know the day has slipped by. If you keep a schedule or calendar events, mark out a slot for scheduled down time. Make a plan – date night with the spouse, play date with the kids, hanging out with friends – anything that is not work related and that lets you recharge. We need to view recreation as just what the root of the word is: re-creation. We work hard most of the time, and we need that downtime to recreate, rejuvenate, and refresh ourselves. Failure to spend some downtime doing this can lead to burn-out. Put it on the schedule, and schedule work around it, not over it.
Trimming time depleting activities from our life means looking at the things you do throughout the day and determining what could be done away with in order to make you more productive in less time. Do you waste company time with surfing the internet, online shopping, social media, banking, etc.? These things take away time we could be working to get the job done quicker, allowing for less actual work time. Wasting more time during the day causes work to build up, as well as stress, and potentially extra hours to catch up. Focus during work, and trim the waste, and you may find you have free time you previously did not.
Exercise can go a long way in boosting your mental capabilities, your focus and your energy levels. Yes, most of us say we do not have time to squeeze exercising into our schedule, and so we do not do it. However, research shows that exercising a few times each week boosts your productivity because it affects your energy and focus. Get up an hour early and squeeze in a 30 minute exercise routine, it could really pay off in the long run when it comes to the time it takes to get other things done.
You do not need to make radical changes in life to squeeze in some down time. Just start small, and build additional time and things work out. Plan 15 minutes a day to relax, or maybe begin reading a fiction novel, or take a relaxing bath. Maybe resume a hobby you lost time to do, just anything that is a change of pace and direction from work and that can give you a mental and physical break.
Do not become another victim of burn-out; work now to balance your work and life time.