Work-life balance

Let’s face it – the vast majority of us will work a job along the lines of a typical “nine to five.” You know, the sit-and-stare-at-a-computer-for-eight-hours-and-then-drive-home kind of job. Eat, sleep, repeat (cubicle optional). But with eight full hours dedicated to work, in addition to, let’s say, an hour of total commute time, plus seven (ish) hours of sleep a night, that leaves a mere eight (ish) hours of free time in any given weekday. Keep in mind that those eight hours do not include time needed for eating and laundry and grocery shopping and exercising and everything else that also needs to get done M-F.

Depressed yet? Don’t be! As daunting as it may seem, making the most of those hours is the key to maintaining a healthy balance between work and home life. Although difficult, it can definitely be done – I promise! Here are a few simple things that you can start implementing into your daily routine that will help you avoid getting “burnt out,” stressed out, and just plain unhappy.

  1. Streamline Your Work Routine: As young twenty-somethings, we are still pretty new on the job scene, which means that we’re probably still figuring out the most efficient way to get up, ready, and out the door in the morning. To avoid wasted time, do absolutely everything you can in advance. Set the coffee maker on a timer; lay out an outfit the night before (that includes shoes and accessories, too!); pack a lunch and have it waiting in the fridge; take your long shower the night before, if possible. It may not seem like much, but a few minutes here and there of saved time can really add up to smoother, less stressful mornings.
  2. Use Breaks Wisely: While it’s always good to step away from your desk and take a breather in the middle of the day, your coveted lunch hour is also a great opportunity. Remember all those other pesky responsibilities we talked about that would normally eat into your evening free time? Take your break at work to run to the store and pick up all the groceries you need for the week, go to the bank or drop off your dry cleaning. You don’t have to dedicate every lunch hour to taking care of errands, but it can definitely free up some precious time once you get home.
  3. Optimize Weekends: It’s Thursday and you’re contemplating your agenda for the next few days: is it spending time doing the same things you always do? Going to the same places you always go? With all the same people you always see? It may be time for a change of pace. Though it’s tempting to stay with what you know, planning to visit a new town or bar or museum or getting to know someone new over dinner can really change your outlook. As they always say, “variety is the spice of life!” By seeking out new experiences and new relationships, it will be much easier to avoid getting stuck in a rut and going back to work feeling like your time off was wasted away.
  4. Sleep: Sleeping more will change your life. It may sound dramatic, but it’s true! Try going to bed twenty minutes, thirty minutes, or even an hour earlier than usual for a few nights and see how it impacts you the next day. Getting up becomes easier, you’ll need fewer cups of coffee during the day (hopefully), and you’ll have the energy to do more than simply sit and watch bad Kardashian re-runs when you get home from work. Your immune system (and puffy, tired eyes) will also see vast improvements. What have you got to lose?
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With just a few small tweaks to your daily habits, you can make balancing your job responsibilities with your ones at home a lot simpler. Plan ahead, branch out a little, and get some shut-eye! We’ve all got to work, so make your time work for you.