The importance of rest in finding work-life balance

Recently we hear more and more about people struggling with finding work-life balance. We live in a world where our jobs are increasingly demanding, stressful and fast paced. I rarely hear someone saying that their job is laid back and fulfilling.

If you want to earn a decent salary, to not live paycheck to paycheck, most likely you have to work very hard.

I struggle with stress at work almost every day, and some days I just get home without any energy left in me. I feel so exhausted and worn out, that I don’t want to do anything. I just want to sleep, to run away and never come back to that job ever again.

I wake up every morning with an increased heart beat, anxious at what is to come ahead at work that day. Whenever I get close to my job place, I dread having to go there, I want to escape. I cry deep down, cursing this job and my life with it.

Does that sound overly dramatic? In this case let me congratulate you, you are one of the few who found the road to a happy and fulfilling job. Please share your secret with us. Unfortunately for me, and for many others, it is the reality of our daily lives.

And please spare me, with the positive outlook in life, with doing what you love and quit that job replica. I’ve heard and tried plenty, but let’s just say it’s not quite working for me.

While reading a book, I realized that me not wanting to go to work was not as much due to the stress or anxiety but to the lack of freedom. My job consumes me so much that I feel trapped, I don’t have time and energy to do something else, to enjoy life. In other words my work-life balance was broken.

Then I started to analyze things from another perspective. What in my job is consuming me and my time the most and I reached some conclusions that I would like to share with you.

  1. Don’t work after hours. I used to remain at work at least 30 min each day after hours. I wanted to finish up some task or prepare something for the next day. I believed this will make my following day easier. Unfortunately, that it’s not how it was. First, my productivity was very low after a long work day. Something that took me 10 min in the morning to complete, in the evening it took 30 min. Secondly, whenever I finished a task better and faster than expected, I received another one, maybe even more difficult. This strategy of mine only increased my workload and my stress levels. So I adopted this new principle, to not work after hours. I prefer to work more efficiently during the day, and enjoy every minute of my free time.
  2. Take breaks during the work day. I now religiously take my coffee breaks and my lunch break. My colleagues even joke if I poured myself coffee a minute later than scheduled. What concerns my lunch break, I never eat at my office or in front of my computer. I get out, no matter the weather (my colleagues joke about that too), go for a walk, enjoy a nice meal and detach myself for an hour from my job. It helps having lunch in good company.
  3. Do something you enjoy after work. Maximize your free time – read a book, listen to some nice music, exercise, go for a walk. Do what works best for you. Even when I do house chores, I put my headphones on and listen to some nice music or an audio book. Enjoy a meal with your loved one, family or friends. We have very little free time, and I am always shocked by the speed of things around me. I feel that I’m wasting my life for nothing, so I intend to live as many experiences and create as many memories as I can.
  4. Go on vacation! Don’t be that person that works year round without taking any holidays. Nobody is going to say thank you, you’re just going to burn out. Ideally, take a vacation away from home, visit some place you love! For me, there’s no better way to recharge my batteries. However often time, our finances have a final word when choosing our destination, but it does not matter. Even a few days stay in a nice cottage 30 min away from home will do the trick. The idea is to change the routine. You could even enjoy a staycation (stay at home vacation), and occasionally go to some nice coffee shop, library or whatever.

Rest is an essential element in finding work-life balance. If you’re tired and overworked you cannot enjoy life, therefore there is no balance.

As the wise men say, do the best of your time and your life, it’s the only one we have!

On assuming responsibility

Last week I had a few issues at work when dealing with some customer complaints. I had marginal involvement in the process that generated the complaint, but still I had to give my contribution. I did what I had to do and passed it on to the person responsible for handling the complaint.

I was very surprised to find out that one of our colleagues, which everybody knew had the ultimate responsibility to ensure the process was working, but failed to do so, was insistently trying to push the blame on me. 

Not to mention that she was doing so by email, putting all the important persons in CC. Persons that were not involved at such a low level, and which most likely would not know that she was to blame.

I was very upset and even angry with her behavior, but I did my best to give a very diplomatic response, trying to explain the process and make it obvious whose responsibility it was. However she didn’t stop, she continued writing accusatory emails, with no valid arguments whatsoever.

All this was happening while I still had to do a bunch of work. I did not have time to deal with this, and I just ignored her further emails. 

Later that day, I was called in by the head of my department, to explain what the issue was and what was going on will all that email ping pong. 

I told the entire story and of course my boss quickly realized that  our department had nothing to do with the problem, and was bewildered by such insolent behavior from someone in our organization. I was told to not worry about it and that my boss will handle this issue further.

I didn’t know this colleague in person, we only communicated by email or phone. I knew she was a bit cheeky and slightly aggressive some times, but didn’t pay much attention to that. I was very surprised to find out that she was a novice, employed strait after college, with 6 months working experience. 

Well, she’s going to have a rough road in life if she still hasn’t realized the importance of assuming responsibility for her own actions. 

Responsibility is the first lesson one must learn if seeking success in life. It’s the first step to self-improvement. If you don’t assume responsibility for your actions and keep playing the victim all the time, then you are not in control. If you’re not in control, you can’t change anything, therefore you cannot improve.

This kind of behavior will discredit you as a human being and will affect both your personal and professional life. You might get away with it for the moment, but just realize that you’re walking a very narrow road, near the edge of a cliff. That road does not lead anywhere, you’re either going to fall or reach a roadblock. 

Also, always be respectful, no matter who you’re talking to. How you treat others defines you as a human being.