“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.” – Michelle Obama
Work-life balance?! Hah! Who knew that was an actual thing?! Well, I sure as hell found out the hard way, when only five months into my new job, I found myself BURNED OUT. Whatever I was doing, it surely was not working. And as much as I dislike change, a change had to be made…
When I went from school/studying 80+ hours per week to working a 40 hour work week, I thought it would be a piece of cake! Little did I know, I would struggle my first year in the working world to find a healthy balance of work and rest amongst the chaos that life can be. I found myself not getting the rest and recovery that I needed after my long 11 hour shifts at work for four days in a row. I’d spend at least one day trying to catch up on sleep and then the other two days catching up on life (chores, errands, bills, meal prep, etc.). There was no time for fun, relaxing or even recovering from the work week.
I got to the point where I was so miserable and so stressed out every day. By the time I had to start my work week again, I was NOT rested. And it just continued in a downward spiral week, after week. I started by doing a little research on how I could better balance my job and my ‘me’ time. I made small changes over time that have helped me get the relaxation and recovery that I need on my off days. It didn’t happen overnight. We’re talking months of experimenting with changing up my routine. I’m still not where I’d ideally like to be with my work-life balance, but it’s certainly on my radar and I’m actively working to make changes as needed.
As I was researching ways to better my own work-life balance, I thought sharing my experience and my findings might be helpful for anyone out there that might be struggling as well! A few changes I have made so far include:
- Changing my work schedule – I went from four 11 hour days in a row (Sunday to Wednesday) to three 11 hour days in a row (Monday to Wednesday) and a half day on Saturday. Breaking up my schedule like this has allowed me to recover faster from those long work days.
- Cooking in bulk – I meal prep in order to stay on track with my health. This involves A LOT of cooking. When I cook, I try to cook in bulk, so that I can reduce the amount of time I spend at the stove. I’ll cook 20lbs of chicken and throw 90% of it in my freezer. Yeah, that’s a lot of freezer space your thinking. That’s why I invested in a chest freezer! Picked up this bad boy from someone selling theirs on Facebook Marketplace for $50! 😀
- Buying in bulk – Traffic is REAL out here in the Bay Area. Doesn’t matter what time of day. The last thing I want to do is waste a lot of my weekend sitting in traffic. To avoid this I try to buy in bulk whenever possible so that I can limit the number of grocery trips I need to make.
- Online shopping – This is another great time saver. I will literally purchase body wash on Amazon to avoid having to make a special trip. That trip to CVS or the grocery might eat up an hour or more of my day! Instead, I’ll spend at most 2 minutes making that purchase on Amazon and probably save money in the meantime.
- Meal prepping – I spend a few hours throwing together breakfast, lunch, and dinner for my work days. This eliminates the cooking/prepping time that I have to spend on work days, allowing me to get an extra 30 minutes of sleep. CRUCIAL when I’m getting home at 8pm and get up at 4am to get a workout in before work.
- Setting aside protected time – I spend one morning on one of my days off relaxing and doing things that I enjoy. If I don’t have this protected time, I’ll immediately start doing errands, chores around the house, meal prepping or some other busy work. This time FORCES my inner ‘need-to-be-on-the-go-New Yorker’ to relax.
These are just a few of the MANY ways that I have made my world smaller over the last year. I love finding new ways to reduce the time it takes to get that ‘busy work’ done and increase the time I have to relax and take care of myself. If you are struggling with your work-life balance and have no idea where to start, don’t worry! I’ve put together 7 tips to help you get started and gain control of your life again!
- Start Small – Make small changes in your routine that will help you find more YOU time. For example, get up an hour earlier on your days off and use that hour to get in a good workout or get some chores out of the way.
- Stay Active + Meditate – Both reduce anxiety/depression and allows you to better cope with adversity. You will find yourself more relaxed overall.
- Unplug – Set your electronic devices aside for at least an hour each day. Go for a walk, read a book, stretch, have a date night, etc. Give yourself some personal time.
- Change Your Routine – If you find yourself getting stressed out trying to get all of the busy work done in one day, maybe spread it out during the week. Take 30 minutes each night after work to spread out the housework so that your days off are more free for relaxing.
- Divide and Conquer – If you have some help at home, figure out how you can divide up errands or chores. Maybe you like vacuuming and your partner doesn’t mind doing the dishes. Figure out where you can divide things up and conquer together!
- Don’t Over Commit – Protect your energy. Before you say yes, think about your needs and whether this particular commitment will affect whether you can meet your needs of your days off. It’s ok to say no.
- Get Support – So many different options. Meal-delivery service, grocery delivery, laundry service, gas delivery or hiring a housekeeper are just a few great examples of ways that you can free up your time for rest and relaxation!
I’d love to hear your strategies and get some new ideas from you guys as well! Leave me a comment below and let me know what you’re currently doing to maintain a healthy work-life balance!
<3 Shannon Edith