Creating a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Are you a hustler?

So often these days, people brand themselves as hustlers and totally dedicate themselves to a “work more” attitude. While there’s nothing wrong with working hard and spending some extra time to grow your skills and move forward in your career, many of us self-proclaimed #hustlers struggle with finding the right work-life balance.

Whenever we’re working on something that is meaningful to us, hustling is great! Working toward your goals is important – but so is working on yourself. This is where mindfulness comes into play as we need to reflect and carefully examine our lifestyle to find out if it’s actually sustainable.

Before I had kids, and especially while I was paying off my student loans, I would pick up extra shifts all the time! I enjoyed the work and seemed to have tons of energy to spare… and that mentality is something I still carry with me, but I’ve learned so much about myself since that time.

Now, I know that even I need a break from extra shifts, long hours, and extra time commitments. Like so many people, I had to re-learn what I needed outside of my career. I need alone time. I need exercise to manage my stress. And, most of all, I need my family.

Thinking about all this, I decided to create this blog with the intention of helping others create a work-life balance that will fulfill your soul and still allow you to create a career that you love.

Taking a Step Back

If you’re reading this, you’re probably someone who knows that they kick ass at their job, knows what they want from a career, and enjoys working hard. You’re also probably someone who struggles with setting boundaries that might “take you away” from work.

Let’s take a step back and think about what that means: do you actually need to dedicate 110% of yourself to your job? Will spending more time outside of work, doing the other things you enjoy, help you become more productive at work?

A study recently reviewed how employees fared when they were able to take a lunch break that did not involve sitting at their desk, working and eating at the same time. They found that employees became more productive. An added bonus? The employees who took a lunch break also felt valued, appreciated, and excited to work their job.

But what about those of you who don’t even get to take a lunch? One of the top complaints of retail pharmacists is that they don’t get a break to eat at all. The only way so many of us get to eat lunch is while we’re standing up and verifying orders. How can we apply this?

Once I reflected on how the hustle was affecting my life, I decided to take a step back and work smarter rather than harder. I am much better about what I take on now. I don’t pick up shifts in the evening, I don’t work when I’m with my children (if I have to, I do a little after I put them to bed). But, it’s important for me to be present in whatever I am doing instead of multitasking in my head (and thinking about work) the whole time.

Before you make any sort of decision, make sure that you give yourself the space to examine how your personal life and career are intertwined. Think about what you could do to better improve your personal life in order to, ultimately, support how far you can go in your career.

Setting Boundaries At Your Current Workplace

Once you’ve decided that you need to create a better work-life balance, it’s time to take the first steps toward a more well-rounded life. One of the first things I recommend that anyone do is to set boundaries.

It can feel very daunting to change things after a pattern has already been established, especially with a direct manager or boss. But it’s one of those things that has to be done if you are finding yourself depleted and always “on” or like you never have any downtime.

The silver lining is that, as with most things, you don’t have to make a complete change overnight. This will help both you and your boss adjust and ease into a new lifestyle that workflow.

You can start off slow by not answering emails past a certain time – and if not being available during all of your waking hours makes you cringe, start setting the precedent by not answering your emails after 6pm to give yourself a dedicated few hours of being off.

From there, you can try to leave exactly when your shift ends, or at least as close to that time as possible. This may involve taking a closer look at exactly how you’re spending your time and re-learning just how much work is physically possible to complete in the span of one shift.

Tackling the Fear of Stepping Back

One point that I wanted to discuss was the fear that’s associated with stepping back and setting boundaries at your current workplace. So many people are worried that, in this job market, they may become dispensable due to them pulling back from their role. If you fit into this category, you may want to reflect on how it’s possible to be a 100% dedicated, hard-working, go-getter during regular business hours while still not being available 24/7.

Talking With Your Team

I have found that many salaried jobs require employees to be “on” for most of the time, but it is still key to break out some time during your day to have dedicated downtime.

You can also request a meeting with your team to discuss the work-life balance that everyone has and how they feel they can improve it. Opening up the discussion to a group can benefit everyone as concerns get aired without judgment, new boundaries are set, and others can learn that they are not alone.

Budget Your Time Wisely

A major aspect of creating a healthy work-life balance is actually figuring out a schedule that works for you. This goes beyond “I work from 9-5 every day, and then I can do whatever I want.”

Start thinking about the standards you’ve previously set for yourself. If you’ve consistently found yourself not being able to get what you need to do (like errands and appointments) done, you may need to ask yourself:

  • Do I find myself staying long after my shift ends to catch up on things?

  • Does my To Do list always seem impossibly long?

  • Once I get off work, do I spend most of my time catching up on errands or cleaning?

  • Have I taken on too much; and if so, is there anything I can drop (what doesn’t serve my purpose)

  • Am I spending all evening scrolling mindlessly or binge-watching television when I need to be studying for a certification or planning my day for tomorrow?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, you deserve to have a balance in your life that allows you to work, run your errands, make it to all of your appointments, spend time with the kids, and unwind after a long day. Although I love to procrastinate, I’ve learned that pushing myself to stick to a schedule ultimately has allowed me to grow my career in ways I’d never imagined, enjoy my work more, spend time with my family, and practice self-care for myself as well.

I feel like now that I’ve had children and have to be home at a certain time, I am a lot more efficient. Instead of taking my time, I usually am more direct with what I need to get done and just face it head-on. Of course, distractions come up and sometimes I have to work a little from home

My other secret is actually waking up an hour earlier. It is hard at first, especially if you’re not a morning person. But you’d be so surprised at how worth it that extra hour can be. If you have to spend more time at work, try coming in a little early and leave on top to better balance your day.

Our amount of free time ebbs and flows. And sometimes we DO have to go all in at put in extra time at work; but give yourself a break after those intense sessions so that you are not burnt out.

After an intense session, feel free to get off social media for a week. Go on a remote vacation and be mindful of not always having your phone. Getting back to those basics will make you so much more appreciative and it will make your time more restorative. There are reasons that you’re not supposed to have your phones on when you are at the spa!

Joanna Simmon