How to Keep Work at Work When Life Balance Seems Impossible
You rush from job #1 to job #2 in between picking the kids up from softball practice. You spend your evenings blogging. Do you ever catch a break?
In American culture, we wear exhaustion as a badge of honor. However, human biology tells us we need to rest sometimes. How do you keep work at work when balance seems impossible?
Although it sounds ironic, mindfulness meditation takes you out of your head and allows you to focus on the present. It teaches you that, hey, even if your mind wanders occasionally, that’s natural. It frees you from having to direct your energy toward the ever-present task at hand, helping you keep work at work.
You can practice Metta meditation where you try to generate a sense of loving-kindness toward everyone. Or you can visualize a goal you hope to accomplish. But if you honestly need a break, sit quietly and let your mind run free.
Step Away From the Laptop
If you work from home, it’s doubly difficult to know when to quit. Before you know it, you’ve worked a 15-hour day and barely blinked an eye. And the moment you wake up, works awaits you yet again.
Set strict limits on your office hours. If your child has soccer practice at 6:30 p.m., power down your computer by 6:15. Leave it off for the rest of the night.
Resist the urge to log into work via phone when you’re off the clock. Yes, our connected world makes working from anywhere possible. This doesn’t mean you need to devote every waking moment to production. Doing so takes you away from the people who need you present IRL.
Move Your Body
Exercise benefits you in many ways. It improves your cardiovascular health and reduces your risk of developing diabetes. It also helps you move past social isolation, a risk when you grind too hard day after day.
Get moving by putting on your favorite music and dancing around your living room with your children. Take a yoga class to celebrate the union of your breath and body. Break out the exercise bands and do some biceps curls while relaxing with a TV show. Anything that increases your heart rate will boost endorphin production, the body’s feel-good chemicals.
A 2015 study indicated walking in nature decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with rumination (such as contemplating all the things you need to do). Head to the nearest park and wander the grounds. Trek to an untamed place on the weekend and explore the trails. Even wheeling yourself out to a sunny balcony to listen to the birds helps provide the mental break you need to regain focus.
Cultivate Your Relationships
Hey, work is work. No matter how much you do or how well you do it, you’ll always have something else to accomplish the following day. But what makes life worth living?
If you said, “Our relationship with others,” you’re correct. But often, too many billable hours equate to not much time spent with family and friends. Take the time to show the people in your life that you care. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in bed (maybe more?) with your spouse. Sing “Baby Shark” for the millionth time with your children. In 50 years, you won’t remember the email you could have sent or the memo you might have written — but you’ll cherish the memories you made with those you love most.
Keep Work at Work Even When It’s Difficult
You can keep work at work if you make the effort. You already direct so much energy toward what you produce daily. Devote some of that positivity toward yourself and watch your life improve.
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Also published on Medium.
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