Time is on my side: Achieving work life balance
Where has the day gone? This question is a reminder of the incessant demands on time and energy. But it’s important to ask questions to understand busyness, time, and work life balance. The Economist indicates that wealthier societies equate time with money, becoming “stingy” with time to “maximize” money. This view of time, though, is often self-imposed. Kreider explains that people are busy “because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.” He goes on to note that busyness is “something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it.” Understanding how we think about time and how we spend time is the first step in reframing and maximizing time.
There does seem to be a significant correlation between the need to seem busy and self-worth. However, what are ideas like this costing society and individuals? On a societal level, taking time off to rest and rejuvenate enhances creativity and motivation. Time off is beneficial for the individual too. Quigley shows that time off can reduce the risk of heart disease, increase reaction times, help with healing, give people a better perspective on life, boost motivation levels, and encourage healthy relaxation in the future. It would appear that time off is valuable, but how do busy people get time off?
I count myself as a busy individual. My immediate family has a number of health concerns, and I have two work-from-home jobs, which means working 60 or more hours per week. Since I was an undergraduate, I’ve been a busy person. I told myself that, when I finished college, I would have a 9-to-5 job, so busyness would pay off, but that hasn’t become a reality yet. This has left me frustrated, and when I’m frustrated, I make changes. Here’s how I’ve started to create more work life balance:
- Track how time is spent — Keeping tabs on how I’m spending my time holds me accountable and ensures I’m not wasting time.
- Keep lists — Jotting down notes keeps track of tasks that pop into my head throughout the day, which keeps me focused on the job at hand.
- Decide where to cut out the nonessentials — Deciding what I have to do and cutting down on what I don’t means more time for family and self.
- Set a schedule — Working from home means unstructured work, but setting a schedule and sticking to it means making my time work for me.
- Schedule downtime — Scheduling an hour or two a day of downtime for hobbies, exercise, and spending time with friends/family ensures I get to enjoy my leisure time.
- Stand up for yourself against yourself — Recognizing myself as my own worst enemy in my fight for leisure time puts things into perspective and puts me in control of my time.
- Disconnect — Stepping away from my cell phone, social media, and most technology has allowed me to reconnect with friends and myself.
After having this plan in place for a while, I started to use it in earnest about three weeks ago. Already, I’ve found extra time for the people and things I love. After weeks without a single day off, I’m finding myself with time. These are just the tips I use, though. I’d love to see this conversation continue. What do you do to balance work, life, and leisure?
About the Author
Suzanne Whetzel has been a tutor and educator for the past 14 years and is currently a lead tutor with Smarthinking. She specializes in writing, reading, and English language instruction at the high school and collegiate level. She holds a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education/student personnel with a focus on graduate and nontraditional students. Additionally, she has taught writing intensive film and composition courses at the collegiate level, as well as served as a freelance tutor and editor. She also enjoys volunteering at writing centers when possible. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, watching movies, gaming, crafting, catching up on the latest tech news, dabbling in computer programming, and enjoying conversation over a cup of good coffee.
- Economist, “Why Is Everyone So Busy?” Dec 20, 2014. Accessed June 8, 2016. http://www.economist.com/news/christmas-specials/21636612-time-poverty-problem-partly-perception-and-partly-distribution-why.
- Kreider, Tim. “The ‘Busy’ Trap.” The New York Times. June 30, 2012. Accessed June 8, 2016. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/?_r=0.
- Quigley, Patricia. “The Benefits of Taking Time Off.” U.S. News. Aug 17, 2011. Accessed June 8, 2016. http://www.usnews.com/science/articles/2011/08/17/the-benefits-of-taking-time-off.
- Sagmeister, Stefan. 2009. “The Power of Time Off.” TED. Accessed June 8, 2016. https://www.ted.com/talks/stefan_sagmeister_the_power_of_time_off?language=en.