Oh my goodness. Do you ever have those weeks where you feel like your head’s just going to explode because you have so much to do? Yeah – me too. I don’t know whether it’s because I took a few days off this week – and I’m really not one of those people who’s good at doing nothing – but I literally woke up at 5am the past 3 days thinking about my ever-growing to-do list, and wondering when I’m actually going to start working through it…
Shockingly, in spite of being the crazy control freak that I am, I’m kinda chilled about the whole thing. Which, I won’t lie, even I don’t fully understand. But it’s something I’ve noticed recently – and I’m certainly not complaining about it – but I do feel quite contented with taking a step back and figuring out more of a work/life balance.
So I thought that was a good place to start with this post – by talking about some of the ways I try to separate my work life from my personal life. Because, in reality, they’re so connected. I feel like for anyone working in the media or online, the two kind of become blurred. As a journalist, I’m writing all day about things that affect me on a personal level, but I’m doing it professionally (aka for dollar). Also, working from home means my work-life literally encroaches on my home life. Take it down another level, and social media had made all of our lives a business really – and instead of capital, it’s all about likes, retweets and approval.
OK, that went a bit deep, but you catch my drift. What I’m saying is, we could all do with taking a step back and reassessing our priorities. So in the spirit of “sharing is caring”, here are some of the ways I find help me distance myself from work, and how I keep my mind clear when normally I’d be running round in circles trying to do everything at once.
Value your time
PSA: This is coming from the least organised person you’ve ever met, so you better believe it’s true. Organisation really is everything, and allocating time for certain tasks is honestly soooo helpful – especially if you’re the kind of person who gets distracted easily and the simplest of jobs takes half a day because you spend most of it on your phone.
Admittedly, this is something I was forced into, but it’s actually changed the way I structure my time for the better. So I work my “day job” 7am to 3pm, so that’s the time I dedicate solely to that. Yes, if there are lulls I’ll maybe do something else, but what those times really mean to me is – that’s when I’m available, mentally and physically, to work. The rest of the time, I’m not – in person, on email or – worse still – text.
There’s no doubt that technology and social media have done great things in enhancing the workplace and improving productivity, but recently I do think there’s a selection of employers who take advantage and expect employees to be available 24/7 just because they’re online (FYI mine is great doesn’t do this, before anyone makes assumptions). I have experienced it in the past, however, and it really needs to stop – because it benefits no one.
Don’t be afraid to take charge and own your time. I’m one of those people that isn’t afraid to speak out, but I hate to think of how many people are guilt-tripped into doing extra work and being available in their free time just because they feel obliged. You shouldn’t have to! And when it comes to social, take some time out – it really helps!
Why are you doing it?
You know, so often we’re told what we should and shouldn’t do – but really, who knows best? Them or you? As stubborn as I can be, I’m a bit of a people pleaser – I think we all are sometimes – but if it doesn’t make you happy then what’s the point? Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against being “nice” (although the word sends shivers down my spine). But if you’re not being kind to yourself, what’s the point?
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So many questions, I know, but the point still stands – I think so many of us need to be reminded that life isn’t all about work. It’s about happiness! Or, at least, feeling contented.
When it comes to doing things outside of work, that’s something I try to keep in mind at all times. I wrote about it a couple of weeks back, but it’s so important. Be unapologetic. When it comes to your life and your time, you answer to no one but yourself – so bear that in mind. Don’t let others take advantage.
Parameters are everything
I guess this applies more if you work from home or on a freelance basis because you might not always be in an office or away from your personal space. But, for me, one thing that really works is setting out a place or area of the house to work in – and places that you don’t. So many of my friends tell me how good it must be to be able to work from bed or on the sofa all day, but that really is something I try to avoid.
Why? I just think it’s too much. Too tempting almost. Ok, it’s a nice idea to work from your personal spaces, but how long until you’re laying in bed or sat watching TV and start checking emails and working out of hours? I just don’t think it’s healthy.
Even if you work in an office, I think the office door should be the line between work and life – and that shouldn’t cross over. Obviously, there will be occasional exceptions, but I do think being aware and making a conscious effort – however small – can have a hugely positive effect.
Give yourself a break
My to-do list is literally endless, but there comes a point where I think you’ve just gotta sit back and accept you can’t do everything at once. At least, that’s what I do – and it really does help. Prioritising is a great thing, and the more I assess what I need to do, what I want to do, and what I could do, the more I realise that, actually, the majority of it is BS.
So give yourself a break and be realistic. Not everything matters now. I always struggle with thinking ideas are old – when, really, they just exist in my head and no one knows about them yet. And, generally speaking, we’re tough on ourselves as it is. So just stop a second and get things in order.
Work yourself into the ground and you’re going to burn out pretty fast. But give yourself some time to recharge and things are going to work out. So give yourself a minute and actually figure out where you’re headed. Because once you make peace with it in your mind, you’re gonna be a whole lot more successful.
Sometimes, you’ve really just got to stop and say: “What does it all matter?” And, more often than not, it turns out it really doesn’t – the things we agonise over are so trivial that we’re getting worked up over nothing. And we’re all guilty of it!
I think for all of our minds it’s so important that we take a step back, forget about work, social media and what anyone else things, and just relax. Maybe that’s why I’m so chilled about having so much to do – because, right now, I’m quite happy where I’m at, and I’m not going to compromise that so I can say, “Look what I did.” It’s not worth it.
That’s what I’m really saying here: take a minute, evaluate things, and just change the pace a little! We all work a little too much, and – let’s be honest – would like more time for ourselves. And why not? So let’s get over centring our lives on work and do something for ourselves – trust me, you’ll feel better for it!