Us humans tend to be exceptionally bad at striking a balance between work and leisure. Now, with the potential to be connected to the office more or less 24-7, it’s even harder not to err on the side of overwork.
When you have a demanding job, or are working on a project that you really care about, it’s even more important to pay attention to self-care and to make time for recharging your batteries. Here are a few simple ways to make sure you don’t burn yourself out!
To me, planning for relaxation feels like an oxymoron but even I have to admit that when you’re run off your feet, it’s calming to know when you’ll be able to have some downtime. Being busy makes it hard to understand that your work will actually be more efficient if you’re properly rested and relaxed. If you’re a particularly goal-oriented person, setting a weekly ‘downtime activities goal’ might help to motivate you.
Make Time for Exercise
While going for a run might be the last thing you want to do when you’re working hard, your body will thank you (once all that lactic acid dissipates) if you take care of it. As the Latin saying goes, mens sana in corpore sano, a healthy mind in a healthy body. You’ll be able to work better, and are less likely to get sick if you take care of your physical health!
Appreciate the Small Moments
A big part of the mindfulness movement is concentrated on noticing the small beautiful moments in the every day. Even if you don’t have any time to spare in the lead up to a big deadline or launch, take time to appreciate the small pleasant day-to-day moments. Noticing the loveliness of what’s around you, and connecting to your environment will take you out of your head for a moment, and give you a chance to breathe.
Cherish Your Weekend
While ‘living for the weekend’ is a bit of a ‘90s mantra, it’s not an outdated idea to really relish your two days off. Even if you can’t completely disconnect from work, make sure to take some time on both Saturday and Sunday to see people or take part in activities that energise you. Make it sacred!
Block Chore Time
We all have to do some life admin from time-to-time. Whether it’s cleaning your flat, going to the dentist, finally fixing that squeaky door or whatever, try to keep these activities into pre-blocked time. This way, you can’t use them to procrastinate, and they don’t sink their claws into your precious time off!
Make Time for People You Love
The first people to take a hit when someone is exceptionally busy are close friends and family. You know they’ll love you anyway, even if you neglect them – which is exactly why you should appreciate them and make the effort. Schedule some real quality time to spend with your family and friends.
Mitigate Unpleasant Tasks
We all have to do some things that we’d rather not. Whether it’s commuting, tax returns, exercise, or putting manners on excel sheets, find ways to make them more palatable. Good radio or a decent book can make a huge difference to your commute, complete unpleasant tasks to music you like, or choose special recipes to make cooking a bit more fun.
Make Some Deliberate Life Choices
If you don’t know what you want, you get pulled in many different directions. Make some active decisions about how you want your life to be and act accordingly. Decide what’s important to you, and build your career and life on those pillars. I’m not saying you have to be completely intransigent, but your core values are less likely to change than your circumstances. It’s also less stressful when you don’t have to spread yourself so thin.
If you block your time and where possible draw some clear boundaries work time and leisure time, it will be easier to fully concentrate on work when it requires your attention, and to enjoy your time off when you get some!