Symbol of scales is made of stones on the cliff

The Work-Life Balance

Hola! I’m writing a post today about making work more conducive to your life! Included in this topic are three ways to work more efficiently, why it’s important to enjoy what you do, and how to manage stress levels.  Let’s be honest, there’s no way of getting out of working.  Most of the people I know are stuck in the trading time for money scenario, and that can be one of the most stressful ways of doing business.  So, if there were a way to hack your work schedule you would want to know it right?  I’ll talk about my own life as an example.

I drive with Uber (not for them, as I’m technically an independent business owner), which means working 40-50 hours per week.  This is great for paying off my consumer debt; however, it’s not exactly super rewarding on a day-to-day basis.  I’m not teaching anyone anything.  People sometimes will ask me questions, but they usually are something like, “when I’m using the Uber app, can I change destinations mid-trip?” or “how do i find out what my rating is?” or “is there  a way to contact drivers?” or “can i split the fare with someone?”

Therefore, to obtain balance one’s intellectual creativity needs an outlet.

I imagine this is just the opposite of someone in a profession who talks all day for a living, or makes art or writes, etc.  Maybe that person likes to go for a long drive at the end of their day to blow off steam? Either way,  I feel that everyone could benefit from working more efficiently, since there are only 24 hours in any given day.  I accomplish this by doing work at work.  If you don’t think there are periods of down-time driving with Uber in the city, there are.  Not a whole lot, but a few (e.g., sitting in the airport parking lot).  During this time, I work on stuff!  This is especially great if Uber has a promotional guaranteed pay-out week (i.e., work a certain number of hours for x dollars).  While I’m adding time to my minimum pay-out criteria (e.g., 40 or 50 hours), I’m also working on my running list of little tasks that I’ve created for myself.

Sitting in the airport parking lot, I’ve done some or all of these things:

  • responded to e-mails from people
  • cancelled recent purchases (i.e., contacted customer service of some company)
  • wrote down some ideas for blog posts (see current article :))
  • balanced my budget (one of my favs!)

See how much time I’ve saved myself?  I know that this can apply to any job profession, so don’t say, “yeah but I don’t have any downtime waiting at the airport like that.”

The truth is that everyone gets bored at their place of business during the typical, routine day.  Even if it’s only 30 minutes in between classes (or pick-ups for you rideshare drivers), work on something!

This brings me to doing something you enjoy.  It’s rare to find a perfect job for yourself.  It’s possible; however, to find something that isn’t so bad.  It’s important to find satisfaction with what you do.  Why? Because if you enjoy what you do for money, you will do it more efficiently.  Working at a stressful job that isn’t rewarding isn’t going to get you jazzed up about going to work.  If you’re not sure how you feel about your chosen (or current anyway) profession, take this little test:

When you come home from work at the end of the day, after you change clothes and grab a snack, what do you do next?

A.  Hop on the computer and catch up on e-mails

B.  Go for a jog, bike ride, swim, etc.

C.  Don’t bother me, it’s Netflix time.

D.  A little bit of all of the above.

Well, I guess there’s no correct answer here.  However, my point is that someone who loves what they do would hypothetically do more of it at every opportunity.  So, if you answered anything but (B) it suggests that you’re the type of person who slogs through their work routine to pay the bills, and you should question your level of current happiness.

Your ass goes here.
Your ass goes here.

Finally, everyone should manage their stress levels.  This seems like a useless piece of advice; however, managing stress levels doesn’t necessarily mean minimizing your stressors.  It means keeping the amount of stress you experience at a happy medium that falls somewhere in between being completely relaxed, and being over ambitious.  It could be possible that you have a low tolerance for stress; which means that your reaction to a life stressor isn’t quite suitable to the level of cognitive demand required to solve that stressor.  For example, you over-react to a simple concern or under-react to a serious issue.  It’s no lie that stress serves an adaptive function in this sense, and harnessing this feeling can help you become a more effective problem solver.

What if you’re not the fitness type?  Exercising isn’t the only way to reduce stress.  Sometimes pouring your creative outlets into a personal project has the same effect as working out.  It seems that most people want to be the best version of themselves.  This means that little accomplishments here and there may (or may not) be satisfying.  This could be the spark to help you engage in something completely un-work related when you get home from work.  For example, starting a new hobby that leads to an additional income stream.  When I’m driving, I tend to do a lot of thinking.  Now, I’ve figured out a way to turn those thoughts into extra change by posting weekly on this blog.

So, in a nutshell we have three things to do today to make us appreciate life a little more.

1.  work more efficiently – find ways to knock off little tasks during your down-time to maximize the work day.

2.  enjoy what you do more –  accept that what you’re doing for money probably won’t change in the next five years.

3.  manage stress levels –  pour your energies into a creative outlet.  No energy?  Try just reading an extra few hundred words / day to boost cognitive functions (also important for managing stressors).

Have anything to add to my list?  What’s your favorite thing to do after work, which also improves life in one of these three ways?