All work and no play is — well, you know. So find time for time off!
Most career advice seems to assume that your job is the most important thing in your life. And it’s true that you probably do spend the majority of your waking hours at work. Or thinking about work.
Yet everybody needs time to relax, unwind, spend time with loved ones, and pursue pastimes that have nothing to do with earning a living. In fact, putting too great an emphasis on our jobs can actually make us less productive (and certainly less satisfied) at work. Overwork also leads to insomnia, anxiety and burnout.
What’s more, basing your entire identify on your job can be risky. Because what happens if that job disappears? Or changes in some fundamental way that makes it no longer fulfilling, or even bearable? You would be left feeling lost and stranded, with no web of support to fall back on.
Which is why it’s wise to keep the balance in work/life balance. In the long run, it’s even better for your career, because downtime energizes you, boosts your creativity and can give you new perspective on your career.
The question, of course, is how to make time for life outside work without looking lazy. After all, many employers do not exactly encourage employees to lead full and rich private lives. In some workplaces, even taking your full lunch hour is frowned upon. You may need to get creative. Here are two simple ideas to get started:
Get involved in a new passion and announce it to everyone at work. If the whole office knows you’re now playing soccer or studying Mandarin every Tuesday and Thursday evening, people will be less likely to ask you to stay late on those nights, especially if you also make it known that your new interest costs money (tuition, supplies, membership fees, etc.).
Our plugged-in world has made around-the-clock-availability the norm, but you may want to refrain from responding to work texts or emails in the middle of the night or while you’re on vacation. If you do anyway (sometimes it’s actually easier), schedule them so they send during regular working hours.
You will of course always be willing to go above and beyond during crunch periods — you just don’t want your work life to be your only life.