Updated: Sep 23
We all have the desire to be successful at what we are doing. There are many different reasons why that is, maybe we want to prove ourselves to our parents or just accomplish the goals that we set for ourselves. Another contributing factor is the competitive, individualistic society in which we live in, where people define themselves according to their personal achievements. This can be very overwhelming and put pressure on us, leading to overworking ourselves while neglecting our social life. In some cultures, like the United States, some people would even argue that “they live to work.”, different cultures on the other hand would argue that “they work to live.”. It is definitely difficult to make time for both, the “work-life“ and the “social-life“. So the question is: “Is it possible to have a work-life balance? “or “Is there even such a thing as a work-life balance?”
First of all, we human beings are multi-taskers, we do many different things at once. Students, for example, are going to University, maybe play a sport, cook and so on. Human beings are good at such things, this, however, doesn’t mean that they are perfect at everything that they do. We concentrate our energy not on one thing, but many things every day. Because we are doing so many things at once it is important to prioritize. Of course, our mental, emotional, and physical health comes first. Without it, we cannot be successful at University, work, or our private life. They are interconnected and should be taken seriously, therefore, to prioritize further we must think about what is energizing us and what is depriving us of energy. If something isn’t beneficial to you in any way, then you should stop pursuing it. Of course, this is easier said than done, sometimes we don’t have the luxury of deciding this. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge our feelings toward the issue and take them into consideration. Even if it is not possible to quit, whatever we want to quit, we can at least try to improve the situation.
Nigel Marsh said: “Being more balanced doesn’t mean a dramatic upheaval in your life, with the smallest investment in the right places you can transform the quality of your relationship and the quality of your life.” This means a few small, but well-aimed changes can elevate your well-being. In the following paragraph, I want to elaborate on these changes.
Especially during this pandemic, it is difficult to stay motivated and to stay on track. Students have online classes and most people work from the comfort of their home, the concept of a structured week with workdays and weekend days is fading. Nevertheless, things need to get done, scheduling out your days and To-Do Lists can help with that. It is important to be realistic, maybe you have a long list of work ahead of you, which means you won’t have a lot of free time that day. Related to this you should try to be flexible and be able to manage if you cannot finish everything that day. Set boundaries and schedule your time, this means to decide beforehand how much time you will spend on something. To make this even more effective try to really focus on your work, so mute your phone and try to keep to the time limit you set for yourself.If you need help with this, there is a great app, called “Forest”. Set the time for when you don't want to use your phone, if you succeed doing so, a tree will be planted. Not only will you be focused on your work, but you will also do something for the environment. Nevertheless, it’s not doing any good if you push yourself too hard, causing you to stress even more. Listen to yourself and take a break when you need one, refill your coffee, or take a lunch break.
Something that helped me personally as well is something a yoga instructor said in class. It was towards the end of the lesson, and we meditated, I felt very relaxed and took deep breaths. She told us “No matter how stressed we are we can always come back to this calm place. Just close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.” This might sound silly, but it really helps with calming yourself down and to clear your mind for a bit. Making enough time for work is important but, as mentioned before, setting boundaries for yourself as well. One very important boundary is the one set between work and free time. It is challenging to uphold this boundary but try your best to disconnect your mind from work and start concentrating on your well-deserved free time.
Free time sounds good, but how do you spend your time? Being productive when you have work to do is one thing, being productive when you don’t have to, is a whole different thing. Naturally, it is important to make time for friends and family. Even though it is difficult to socialize at the moment, it is essential. Corona isn’t just putting a strain on our economy, but also our mental health. A lot of people feel isolated, lonely and some even depressed, which is understandable, but as I mentioned at the beginning, we should prioritize our mental health. This sounds logical and self-evident, however, it is not the case. It takes time for people to even acknowledge that they struggle with their mental health and when they do, it takes even more time until they start accepting it and actually prioritizing themselves and their mental health. It is important to take care of ourselves and to be aware of the people that surround us. Watching out for our family and friends is very important, and we should always have time for that. So the best thing we can do is to use all the available tools. Ring up a friend or a relative, be open to talk about what is troubling you, nobody is truly alone in this. Maybe try something new and play “Among Us” or another online game with your friends. Although our four walls may seem small, we can still be creative and pursue a hobby. You could for example try a new recipe, read a book, paint, crochet, sew - the list goes on. Additionally, just because you are at home doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself, if you have resources you can order food or watch a nice movie. We can work on our physical health at home as well. Home work-outs can do wonders after you have sat in front of your screen for a long time. However, if you get sick of seeing your four walls go for a walk and try to get some fresh air. Using our free time wisely can be difficult, sometimes it feels good to just relax and watch something on Netflix. Nevertheless, we should try to invest as much energy in our relationships, our mental and physical health, and our Hobbies as we do in our Work-life.
It is difficult to have a work-life balance, some would even argue there isn’t one. It is almost impossible to separate work and life from each other. I think it’s less about the concept and more about the idea that work and life should be equally important and prioritized. We should spend our time and energy wisely, focusing on the things that are important to us. If success is the thing that is motivating us, we have to rethink what success means to us as an individual. It can mean happiness for one person, independence for another, there are many ways to interpret it. The point is to be successful in your own way.
By: Elisa Klaffus