Life outside of work
The daily grind
Work is not just something people do every day, it is where they spend a large portion of their time. Some people develop a sort of work life due to spending so much time there. Depending on the field, work can be extremely stressful or monotonous.
Many of you know the drill: shut off the alarm, roll out of bed, shower, eat (or consume caffeinated beverages) and head to work. Then you spend at least eight hours (average job) doing your job. There are probably a couple of coffee breaks and a lunch break in there somewhere and then you get to go home. For some people, a different job begins when they get home: parent, student, caregiver are all examples. This adds up to seemingly nonstop days and very, very tired people.
Whether you like or hate your job, you do it every day. Most of us have jobs for one main reason, the paycheck. Bills must be paid and food is always a good thing. Most of us find it difficult to survive without that steady paycheck. The sad fact is, it can be hard to survive even with a steady paycheck. This is where even more stress comes into play for many people.
Some of people are considered lucky to be able to work from their home office. No traffic worries, no office drama and they do not have to leave home to put in their eight hours. Many also do not get scheduled breaks, the benefit of face to face interaction with coworkers or even fresh air some days.
I cannot speak for other Freelancers, but when was a full time writer and editor, I had a daily work grind of my own. I was up no later than 5 am and drinking coffee by 5:15. I logged onto my writing site, chose a topic and begin work. I finished the piece and then answered work related emails, comments and took a short break. Then back to writing and editing. I did not take or make personal calls, watch television, visit with friends or anything else during my workday. Monday through Friday 5 am-2 pm this was my schedule. And many, many days I worked 12 or more hours. I had to make weekends off mandatory for myself (more on that in a bit).
The one thing many people are missing is the fun part of life. The life outside of their job(s). Yes, it is possible to have fun no matter how hectic or long your work days are.
Let the fun begin
The hardest part about having to work is not having the time for anything but work. Some people end up bringing work home with them. This can be in the form of physical things like paperwork or computer files. It can be in the form of mental and physical exhaustion which leads to cranky, stressed people. These poor folks never seem to have time for anything non work related. This is where they can learn how to create "fun time" even during the workday.
No matter what type of job you have, you can usually find five idle minutes at least once every couple of hours. If nothing else, mother nature comes calling at some point. Take that five minutes and close your eyes and just breathe. Be sure that you are in a safe area (do not close your eyes for five seconds if driving or operating machinery of any kind).
You can take that five minutes to stand up and stretch or if possible, walk around a bit. Go into the restroom and splash some cool water on your face and neck. The water can refresh you and make you feel more alert.
If you are at home and engaged in a different type of daily grind like cleaning, you can still find that precious five minutes. Brew a cup of tea or coffee while doing dishes, for example. When the beverage is done, take a sip and close your eyes. Just breathe in the aroma.
These are your times. For that ten or fifteen minutes you are not required to do any work related tasks. Go outside, and breathe in some fresh air. If going outside is not an option, then walk around or sit and relax. Talk to coworkers if you have any close by. Clear your mind of work and think about things you like such as movies or music or a hobby. Maybe start making plans to see a movie or start a new hobby project.
Lunch break is usually between a half an hour to an hour for most people. Use this time to eat and drink, of course. Also use this time to socialize if possible and go outside. Take a cat nap, but be sure you can become fully awake and alert to return to work duties.
Early morning and evening
For those of you who have to be to work early of a morning, find a moment for yourself before heading out. It doesn't have to be anything you have to get up even earlier to do. For example when you get into the shower, allow yourself to relax a bit. Enjoy the warm water on your muscles and do not think about work. Another moment can be taken while eating breakfast or enjoying a cup of coffee.
In the evenings before you collapse onto your bed, try taking a warm bath. Yes guys, you can do this too. The bath doesn't have to last more than fifteen minutes. The idea is to just soak your tired muscles and relax your tired mind. Doing this right before going to sleep might help you drift off faster and sleep a little bit better.
If a bath doesn't really appeal to you, then try sitting in a comfortable chair with the lights dimmed or off. Turn off the television/music, put the book down, etc. and just relax.
This is the time you can really start working toward balancing your work life and non work life. Try banishing all work related thoughts and feelings on those days. This might take some time and effort to accomplish. Fill that time with activities you enjoy. You can try making a schedule for your days off. Yes, a schedule. I'll explain that in a bit.
Days off for some people, end up being filled with a different type of work. Yard maintenance, home repairs, house cleaning, laundry, shopping and the like. For these people, days off are almost as dreaded as regular workdays. However, there are ways to balance those necessary chores and necessary fun time.
As I mentioned, you could create a schedule for your days off. What this really comes down to is necessity. Those household chores always need done, but so does relaxing and having a good time. One example of a schedule is twice a month you could devote at least one day off to repairs and yard maintenance. Twice a month you plan fun activities and twice a month you plan on relaxing and doing next to nothing. It is up to you how your schedule will look.
The idea behind the days off schedule is so that you can put your mind at ease and realize that there really is time for life outside of work. It may sound silly or bothersome to plan fun time, but it really does make sense. It's called time management. We all know about that from our jobs, so why is it that our home lives seem to suffer from the lack of enough time for...anything? The answer is we tend to throw schedules and structure of any kind out on our days off. Consequently, few things get done, including having fun.
Whether we like it or not, work is a part of our lives, but it doesn't have to be the only part. We can find a happy balance between work and home without losing our sanity. All it takes is some planning and effort.
If you have a family, then when you happen to sit down to a meal together, enjoy it. Make cleaning up after the meal a family effort to get it done quicker. Watch TV or a movie or play a game after clean up is done. If you do not have a family then enjoy that meal in front of the television, laughing at your favorite sitcom. Call a friend or family member and visit or revel in peaceful quiet after a long day.
Balancing work and home life is all about making time for yourself. You want to spend quality time with people you care about, time alone to unwind, time to get personal projects done and all of that can be achieved with careful planning and lots of creativity.
A little extra help
I mentioned earlier how I have made weekends off mandatory for myself. As a Freelance Writer, I did not have a schedule set by anyone but myself. No one is checking to see if I clocked in or met my quota for the day or week.
Due to this open schedule (aside from article deadlines), I found I was working my brain and fingers to the point of exhaustion. Chronic back aches, headaches and mental fatigue were normal. I was known to put in sixteen hour days, seven days a week. I was even given the title of "Prolific writer" by colleagues as well as readers.
Not only was I writing, I was also editing and managing microsite content and answering questions from colleagues and then doing housework and cooking and laundry after those sixteen hour workdays. Something had to give and it was me.
Some of the ways I found to balance out my chosen career and personal life took some soul searching to find.
- I stopped the sixteen hour a day, seven day a week routine. It was draining me to the point of no return.
- Bath time was me time. I was never really a bath person (showers were the way go), until I became a Freelancer. I began looking forward to soaking after hours of sitting and writing.
- I lit scented candles and sat in the dim light, quietly contemplating peaceful things like rainfall and scenic beauty.
- I allowed myself weekends off. No writing, researching or even rough drafts!
- I would draw and paint as a creative outlet when my mind was restless.
- I got plenty of exercise. Walking everywhere I needed to go was and is a great time for thinking or taking in the scenery.
- Time with people I care about. I had completely alienated my friends and family. I began working on rebuilding those relationships and had a blast in the process!
These tips may not apply or work for everyone, but there are ways to balance your life. Although I now have a job outside of my home, most of these tips still work wonderfully for me. The key is to slow down and stop stressing about it. Life can overwhelm you if you let it. Learn to reward yourself for your hard work.
© 2014 Tammy Cramblett