Balancing Work and Life as a Young Professional
This article was updated on September 18, 2018.
Many young professionals struggle to find balance in their lives. From working to family time to making time for ourselves, balance doesn't come easy, and no magical formula works for everyone. If you find something that works now, it might not work a month from now. Instead, think of your goal as finding out what works at the moment, and don't be afraid to adjust it. I know change can be scary, but learning to see when adjustments are necessary and rolling with the changes can be very liberating.
I am a 30-year-old wife and mother. I've been working for my employer for almost four years, and I'm continually growing in my position with the organization. Besides working and taking care of my family, I really enjoy reading and working out. Well, to be honest, I don't enjoy working out, but it is a necessity in my life. So when I'm looking at a 24-hour day, it's hard to figure out how to fit everything in and still find time to sleep. Through some trial and error, and with some great advice, I'd like to share with you some tips that I've come to rely on.
Utilize Your In-Office Time
When you're at work, try to be there mentally 90 percent of the time. It's almost impossible to be focused 100 percent of the time, but the more focused you are at the office, the more you are able to get done. The more you get done, the less you stress about work outside of work hours. Learn to use your time at work effectively, and you will free up head space to focus on other areas of your life.
Take Advantage of Your Lunch Break
Lunch is your break to recharge in the middle of the day, to stop thinking about work and focus on something else. Use it to your advantage! Pick up a book you've been wanting to read, call a friend or family member you've been meaning to catch up with or sneak in a quick workout. Just do something that is not related to work. Again, this helps you recharge, so make sure it's something you find enjoyable.
Set Time Aside for You
Focusing on yourself might make you feel selfish, but in the long run, it's something everyone needs. Taking time away from everything, and focusing on something that is all for you creates a healthier mindset. Whether you decide to set time aside daily, weekly or monthly to focus on you, finding that time is imperative.
My goal for the first quarter was to set aside two hours every week to have time to myself. This didn't happen at all, so instead I decided to take a half day whenever I could afford it. I set the time up on my calendar and my only goal for those four hours was to focus on something that I really enjoy. I'm not going to clean the house or do things that I don't truly enjoy. In all honesty, I'll probably spend that time reading at a local coffee shop.
Notice When Adjustment Is Needed
You can try to come up with the perfect plan to balance everything, but once you put it into place, you might realize that it's just not working. When you realize that it's not working, don't stress out trying to make it work. Instead, focus on adjusting to something that does work. When you're working to find a balance between work and life, you need to find a flow. It does take a lot of trial and error, but once you figure things out, your life will run a lot more smoothly. Always remember to enjoy that balance in the moment, but look out for when things get a little rocky. When they do, look to make adjustments.
Enjoy Your Family Time
I cannot stress this enough: When you are with your family, be with your family. Enjoy sitting down to dinner and hearing about the day. Enjoy playing with your kids and learning more about them. It's easy to be distracted during these times, to pick up your laptop and try to get work done, to get on your smartphone or cruise the internet. What I want you to do is take a step back. Try to imagine what you're missing when you're using your family time for work or using it to try to squeeze in time for yourself. You're missing your children growing up, and you're missing the opportunity to grow closer to your spouse. Show your family that they are more important to you than your job at that moment.
If you don't have a spouse or kids, what else are you missing out on when you use time away from work to work? You're missing the opportunity to hang out with your friends and socialize. You're missing time to decompress and recharge for the next day. When you don't have kids or a spouse, you have more time to focus on things you enjoy doing. Definitely use that time to your advantage!
Finding Your Magical Formula
Now that I've shared these tips, I want to share my magical formula that is working at this moment:
- I wake up early to fit in a good workout and get ready before I wake my daughter and get her ready for school.
- Then I go to work, and I really focus for those first four hours of the day.
- For lunch, I take the time to catch up with a friend through a phone call or read a book.
- I return to work feeling recharged since I've given my mind time to relax. This helps me refocus for the last part of the day.
- My evenings are devoted to my husband and daughter. We make dinner, catch up on our days and play.
- Once my daughter goes down for the night, my husband and I wind down by watching TV or working on personal hobbies.
- Finally, we go to bed and rest up for another day.
I am constantly aware of my formula, making sure that it's still working. I know that it can change at any moment, but it's nice to have a routine that works for me right now. It's a routine that helps me fit in all the things that are important in my life. I hope that these tips will help you discover your magical formula and remind you to keep things in perspective in all areas of your life.