Balance – a virtue that is culturally universal:
Yin and Yang must always be in harmony, angels and demons forever locked in a constant struggle, and the Jedi – well, they didn’t really get it until it was too late. Regardless of your outlook on life, balance is a fundamental principle that we all rely on. Too much on one end of the scale sends everything out of whack, especially when it comes to the issue of work and play.
Now, for those rare few who are absolutely in love with what they do for a living, work and play are one in the same, rather than the two extremes. I say, good for them; that is the end-goal after all, right? To find yourself in a place where “work” and “play” are interchangeable? Some people are just predisposed to finding career-nirvana, apparently. So how do they do it? Here are just a few simple steps you can take.
Do you believe in multitasking? I don’t, to be perfectly honest. I think it’s one of the biggest lies people tell themselves. Sure, you can walk and chew gum at the same time (hopefully), but can you really work on several projects at once? No. When it comes managing a workload, it’s important to realize that you need to focus down one whole assignment at a time, otherwise you’ll just end up chipping away at a few things without really accomplishing anything. Maintaining your concentration on one task allows you keep your train of thought, rather than constantly stopping and starting and asking yourself, “Wait, where was I?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing something, went to do something else, and then completely forgot the deep or witty line I was going to write next. It’s infuriating. So the next time you feel like you can do a hundred things at once before you go out or take a break, start with one, finish it, and go to another.
What is easily one of the most recognizable interferences in our daily lives, both professionally and socially, is our phones. Our phones have become the locus of our attention, given the absolute volume of features and functions they now have. If you’ve ever gone without your phone for a period of time, whether because it was forgotten at home, out of power, or you just straight-up lost or broke it, then you probably get that feeling; the one where you feel like you’re missing an appendage, or like how a diver feels when he comes to the surface and his boat is gone? That feeling? Yeah, when you’re so dependent on something that you’re prone to false phantom pains and conniptions, something’s not quite right. Yes, our phones may play an important role in our professional lives as well as offer an entire catalog of escapes when we need them, but there has to be some kind of compromise. Unless you actually need to call people (you know, like on the actual “phone” part of your phone) then chances are that Siri is more intrusive than she is helpful. Try keeping track of the number of times you check your phone in an hour, then try to lower that score in the next hour.
Remember planners? When you got that little book in grade-school so you could write down what needed doing and by when? What is probably the easiest way to draw a line between crunch-time and you-time is to make yourself a reasonable timeline – what is becoming a dying practice these days. Installing some punctuality into your workday can turn an otherwise ambiguous can drastically cut down on wasted time as well as expletives from your boss. And all that time in between those assignments? That’s all you.
The struggle is real, but it’s a good struggle to have. Learning to manage your time so that work gets done and so you can afford to not work every now and then is one of the most vital skills you can have. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but all play and no work, well, then he’s just kind of a tool.