It’s not surprising that many of us are suffocated by our work, so much that we neglect or even forget about other commitments we have in our lives which are equally, if not more important, than paying our bills. We have our family, communities, hobbies which we care very much for as well. Yet, work can be so time-consuming and draining to us that by the end of each day, there’s little energy left in us to engage in these other activities.
Is there no way out? I hope not. Although it might be hard for us to not adopt the changing work culture, I believe there are still some things we can change. Even if we can’t change the environment, the least we can change is the attitudes we hold within ourselves. Here are some practical tips which most of us are already aware of and serve more as a reminder to ourselves. I hope they will be of help for those of us who deserves a break from our hectic work life.
Recommended Reading: 6 Ways to Unleash Creativity in the Workplace
1. Learning When to Say "No"
As my boss often says to me when I first started work, don’t be overzealous in helping out my colleagues with their work. I didn’t understand back then, but three months down the job, I could see where he’s coming from. When you start accepting work outside your job scope, people eventually assumed that they were part of your responsibilities. Apparently, that’s what happened to my boss.
Some of them may have used such tactics as a way to lessen their workload, while others may have done that unintentionally. Whatever is the case, it’s best to gauge our workload before we decide to assist in other work areas. Sure, some organizations appraise employees based on how much they are willing to do work outside their scope, but the key here is to balance between fulfilling our roles and going beyond. The priority should always be to complete our job well first.
2. Accepting Imperfection Doesn’t Mean Rejecting Perfection
Every job comes with its own expectation on how thorough it has to be done. Nevertheless, not every aspect of your job scope has such a stringent requirement, and these are the areas you should give yourself some leeway. If you’re always aiming for perfection in everything you do, you’re going to be burdened by your overwhelmingly increasing stress in the long-run.
I’m just suggesting that you don’t miss the forest for the trees, because you could’ve used that extra effort to finish and polish up those portions where you’re supposed to be ‘perfect’. Accepting imperfection for those parts that are less important doesn’t mean that you give up on your search for excellence; it just means you prioritize your efforts to where it matters more.
When you are performing well on your work as a whole, the resultant satisfaction has a positive trickle-down effect on the rest of your life outside work.
3. Setting Personal Rules
Some of you may be turned off by the word, ‘rules’ because it connotes something rigid and inflexible. But indeed, when it comes to certain things in life that we often sacrifice for work, we should ensure that we spend not just time, but quality time on these activities. Just as most of us have to spend a designated amount of time for work every week, we should set apart time for other commitments.
In a sense, these ‘rules’ you set will help you keep a balanced life that does not involves only work, work and work. When you tell yourself that you will turn in by eleven every night, that you will spend every Sunday with your family and that you will workout at least twice a week, they will more likely to happen than if you simply say you will sleep early every night, you will have family time every week and you will keep yourself fit. Writing them down on a piece of paper will even make you commit deeper.
4. Delegating Work
It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of doing everything by yourself. Why? It seems logical to trust yourself more than you trust others when it comes to your work. After all, if you pass work to someone else and something goes wrong, you get the blame. But if we are to really improve our productivity level and enjoy what we do, we have to entrust certain tasks to others.
There are certain works which we particularly enjoy doing and are better at. Then there is other stuff which is better left without our interventions. The latter are those which you should delegate to people around you. Focus on what you do best and you will do a better job organizing your work and hence, a more balanced work life.
5. Be Sociable But Beware of Politics
Work takes up a significant portion of our time, so it will be beneficial to your well-being if you spend your time optimally. Get to know your colleagues well even outside work and you’ll have a less hard time in the office. We are social animals after all; we need social support when the going gets tough. What’s more, this will make it easier to ask for help when you need it.
One thing to be careful about here is that we may unknowingly get involved in office politics. When you socialize with people more, you get to see what you may like or not like about some of your co-workers. This is when you form or join cliques and stick with what your group believes in. Politics are inevitable in the workplace, but you can always minimize it by taking the effort to mingle with people from different groups.
6. Work Hard & Play Hard
Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. What he meant was that if you love what you do, you would enjoy it so much that it wouldn’t be considered as work. That is great advice, but I still believe that work and play are distinct from each other. Once you accept that distinction, you will be able to simplify your work-life by a notch.
As much as possible, when you’re out of the office, try to disconnect yourself from work at home. Don’t bring work home with you. If that is not possible on a day-to-day basis, then consider taking a complete break from work during your vacation.
Communication technology has improved communication by the leaps, but it has definitely created more stress for all workers. Switch off your mobile phone and resists checking your emails every fifteen minutes. Go out and enjoy yourself or attend to what is more important in your life.
7. Take Regular Breaks
Who would think of taking breaks when you have so many deadlines to meet? Most of us would be so absorbed into what we are doing and forget about them altogether. That’s all fine and dandy if we only get busy days once in awhile, but if such tight schedules are habitual, it can have an overwhelming effect on your stress level.
It’s not just for the sake of yourself, but also for the sake of improving productivity. When you place sustained attention to a task, fatigue sets, you get distracted and make more mistakes. It ends up with you taking a much longer time to finish it. Taking short rests will rejuvenate your energy level and keeps you motivated.
Many people do not realize the power of taking regular breaks, and the damaging effect of not taking them. Sometimes, it is precise that you are overwhelmed by work that you need to take a fifteen minutes tea break.
8. Have Something To Look Forward To
Some of us may see work as a chore that we slog it out for five days a week. For these people, they very much dread the drudgery of work. Time may seem to crawl by every second of the day as they do what they hate to do. Work becomes some sort of a living hell for them.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. To simplify the pain of work, it helps to have something to look forward to at the end of the day, week, month or year. Better still, try to connect the reason why you’re doing the work you dislike with what you look forward to. It could be that you are working there because you are fulfilling needs of your family whom you love to see them after a long, hard day at work. Or you are slogging your days away because you’re earning a trip to the Caribbean islands.
If you fail to derive enjoyment or find meaning from your work, then link your efforts to a certain cause outside work. You’ll realize that the days will get back easier on you when you have a reason as to why you’re staying in your job, whether it’s lousy or not.