For today’s wellness email, I want to write about maintaining work-life balance (or school-life balance). Below are some tips that I have found to be extremely helpful in keeping myself balanced lately:
1. Mindfully exercise your “no.” Saying “yes” is a great thing, but doing it unmindfully can leave you feeling burned out and overwhelmed. It’s important to stay mindful of how you are feeling with your current workload and let people know when you cannot take on any more work. This also extends to advocacy, volunteering, and other community work, which is critical, and can also be incredibly time-consuming – it is okay to say “no” when you need to!
2. Don’t wait until you’re burned out to ask for help. Talk with your professors, boss, coworkers, or whomever else is relevant about how you’ve been feeling. Be clear that you are trying to be proactive about preventing burnout and need their support. Come prepared for these conversations with specific ideas about what you need (e.g., “I need to reduce my hours”) or specific asks for help (e.g., “I am asking for a 2-day extension on this assignment”).
3. Figure out what gets in the way of quality time and relaxation. Find solutions that help you stay present with your friends and loved ones that work for you or allow you some downtime, such as silencing your phone during time with friends and family, getting a co-worker to cover for you when needed so that you can take a needed break, or turning off email notifications on the weekends.
4. Embrace “good enough.” Many people (like me) struggle with work-life balance because we are perfectionists – we want our work to be great and we want our colleagues to know that we are good team players. Sometimes though, it’s really helpful to recognize when good enough is good enough. It’s okay to leave emails in your inbox until Monday. Not every paper has to be a magnum opus. Save energy where you can so that you will have it for the things that matter!
5. Pursue work, classes, and projects that energize you. Every job or class comes with some less than enjoyable tasks (e.g., homework). And then there are those tasks and projects that remind us of why we pursued our area of study or job. Mentoring students is a relatively new work task for me, but it is one that I am finding to be more and more deeply rewarding. Making sure you have enough energizing “work” will help you feel less depleted and leave more energy for all of the other parts of your life.
6. Take vacations. Whether or not you go anywhere is of little consequence – the important thing is to take time where you do not have to be “on” regularly to recharge your batteries and engage with the people in your life.