Here we go again, my wordy little birdies. Continuing on our quest (we are almost done with the baseline tests, and then I promise, we will finally be leveled up enough to face the Sea of Distractions on our epic quest to save the muse). The next stepping stone towards our grand adventure: finding that work-life balance. We all have them: those dreaded extra responsibilities that keep us from living in our dream world all the time. Keep in mind- when I talk about work, I don’t just mean your standard 9-5 clock in and get paid kind of thing. I mean ‘work’ in the broadest sense of the term: it can be taking care of a household, wrangling children, assisting loved ones, volunteering; the list is truly endless. What it really boils down to: responsibilities that you give your time and energy to. For me personally, the majority of this time is spent on a career, taking care of a home, and family obligations because I don’t currently have any tiny tots to chase around, so that’s where most of my personal baseline discussion is going to be coming from. That being said: if you choose to participate in this section, I strong encourage you to take a step back and really evaluate all the different types of ‘work’ you have in your life.
I have been clocking in far too many hours at my place of employment lately, and I know it. My work tends to ebb and flow; some weeks you’ll have lots of room to breath, and wind up with the option of taking a few hours off here and there to recharge. Other weeks you will be coming in early, working through lunch, staying late, dream about the place when you’re in bed- and still be behind schedule. There is rarely a happy medium. In the past few months I’ve been doing way too much overtime. My last time card popped up into the triple digits, which isn’t a particularly good sign. I also recently realized that I’ve cancelled so many vacation days this past year that I actually maxed out on the number of hours I’m allowed to have banked up- I ultimately lost about 45 hours of time I should have earned. Which sucked, to say the least. I have been working so hard that when I get home I am mentally fatigued and a bit grumpy to boot.
I have been working far too many hours lately, and I know it. My work tends to go in phases: some weeks you’ll have lots of extra time to use your flex or take a couple of hours off, other weeks you will be coming in early, working through lunch, and staying late- and still be behind schedule. I’ve been doing way too much overtime. My last time card popped up into the triple digits, which isn’t a good sign at all. I also realized that I’ve given back so many vacation days the past year that I actually maxed out on what I’m allowed to accrue, and ultimately lost 45 hours of time I should have been earning. That…sucks, to say the least. I have been working so hard that when I get home I am mentally fatigued and a bit grumpy.
The overworking until I drop mentality has caused havoc for my personal time. Not to mention, it is simply not sustainable. I haven’t had the time to invest in any of the projects I’ve had on my list, and most creative endeavors fall flat before they ever get a chance to start. My balance has been out of whack for a while.
Luckily, the major projects that were forcing the extra overtime have all concluded. The next big one I have on my radar may not rear it’s head until August, which gives me a little bit of time to recoup and prepare. I am fortunate for the fact that I have a boss who is very understanding of what burnout can do to a person and encourages me to leave early whenever there is an opportunity (and even at a few times when all I can do is laugh because I am up to my eyeballs in paperwork). The next big bonus: this week is thankfully very peaceful, and next week I am on vacation. Nothing big or fancy; my partner/basically husband/whatever you call the man you have been with for nearly a dozen years even though you still aren’t married in spite of his mother’s best efforts- he couldn’t get the time off work, so it will be a stay-cation for me. If I’m being honest: I am thrilled about this. I have a laundry list of projects around the house, a closet full of crafts I’ve only partially started, a pile of books, and a dog that will force me out of the house every chance he gets. This is going to be a game changer kind of break.
So, even though I’ve spend way too many extra hours on work than I would like, I’m about to strike a slightly better balance in the next few weeks. It’s going to be a far more manageable routine. I’m working on getting ahead of a few projects so I can be mentally prepared when they take over again, so I can rearrange my creative endeavors and make them a little less intensive during my crazier work weeks.
When it comes to other types of work in my life: my balance is getting a lot better. I am lucky to have a partner who splits the housework with me pretty evenly. After over a decade we’ve learned that some weeks one of us only has 30% to give, so the other can offer up 70%, and when the roles reverse we can flip it. But we usually aim for even stevens. I’m also getting better at doing chores when they are still small (ex: do the laundry when you have one full load of dirties instead of waiting until you are completely out of underwear, or emptying the dish washer as soon as it runs instead of waiting until the sink is overflowing and you have to cook the noodles in a crock pot). If I keep chipping away at the CONSTANT trickle, then I won’t get swept away by the raging floods.
My score: 5/10
- Make a monster out of household chores you haven’t done (ex: dish monster, laundry monster)
- Create a chore/task game (I used to do this as a kid, and loved it- it can be anything. Put 5 things away as fast as you can and then run an impromptu obstacle course. When I was little I would heighten the challenge- the obstacle course was made up of the toys I needed to clean, so it got easier and my time got faster as I went. You can have any sort of mini game or reward, be as creative as you like)
- Write a full short story during your break. It could take the entire 10-15 minutes, it could be a hard hitting piece with just two sentences.
- Take pictures of your daily tasks as though you were an alien exploring this strange world you found, or an investigator trying to unravel a mystery (but don’t take any pictures of anything that could get you in trouble in the workplace- if it’s a trade secret, confidential, or proprietary- it’s best to let that sleeping dog lie)