In today’s overly-caffeinated society, we are often hustling for things we just really don’t care about anymore. And to what end? Do we really enjoy the life we are achieving through this process? How can we make this life better and still produce quality work and good health for ourselves at the same time?
If you feel like college or work life is pick 2 of 3 – sleep, study, or socialize – fear not! YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Try not to laugh these “so obvious” tips off. They take a lot of effort to integrate into your young adult daily habits. Here are some tips to help you achieve a work-life balance:
- USE A PLANNER! This basic practice is a serious lifesaver. I highly recommend the Law of Attraction Planner because filling it out forces you to reflect on how you’re progressing through your goals. It also gives you the opportunity to re-evaluate your values, goals and objectives on a regular basis. I actually stumbled upon this journal-planner combo on Amazon by accident in graduate school, when I felt I had hit rock bottom. TOTAL. GAME. CHANGER. Now I’m out in the workforce, having completed my degree, and working on new goals that I find interesting, challenging, and engaging. But I don’t feel so overwhelmed anymore.
- Schedule out time to sleep. Yes, make this a priority! And ACTUALLY WRITE DOWN THE BLOCK OF HOURS FOR SLEEP EACH DAY in your planner! It will make your waking hours much more productive if you give your body the opportunity to set a reasonable and orderly circadian rhythm. Your sleep will also be more productive because your body will know when it’s okay to start getting sleepy and to do its regenerative work.
- Take time to nurture your spiritual side. This can take form in a variety of ways: making arts and crafts, dancing, singing, meditating, making a vision board, practicing yoga, pampering your body, listening to music or motivational podcasts, writing notes to your family and friends, going to church, or saying prayers or mantras. Even putting on makeup can help you feel more confident, put together, and ready to go for the day.
- Make time to eat. If you’re a workaholic like me, I know this can feel like a hassle sometimes, but schedule 30 minutes or an hour each day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Setting it at reasonable intervals will help you keep your blood sugar constant, which is better for your mood, brain power and efficiency, and your overall long-term health. Pick foods that make you salivate and get excited about taking the break. My saving grace in grad school was Lao Gan Ma because it had MSG (no, it’s really not bad for you! It’s the salt form of an amino acid you need in your body anyway) and you could put it on virtually everything to make it delicious. Even if your cooking sucks! Meal prepping in advance (on your lazy day, perhaps) or having a few tasty, quick recipes already memorized with ingredients on hand can also work wonders for your stress levels during the week. You will save money and you will feel more in control of what you are putting into your body. You also will not wind up hangry because you’ll have a steady supply of what you need to keep you going.
- Divide large tasks into smaller tasks before ordering your tasks and executing. Making objectives as small as possible will help you not feel overwhelmed about all the things you have to do today. This also will help you avoid procrastination (which happens when you are overwhelmed about all the things you still have to do and don’t want to do any of them actually). In other words, treat yourself kindly and make things as easy on yourself as possible.
- Do the quickest two tasks first, then do the hardest one next. I highly recommend this order of execution because it gets you in the mindset of “I can, and I am doing,” giving you the initial momentum you need to tackle the nasty task you’re dreading doing.
- Put your cell phone on Airplane Mode during work sessions and stay logged out of social media sites! This is probably one of the most important tips because it is key to feeling very efficient and productive at your work. Getting into that sense of “flow” about the actual task at hand will keep you from getting distracted and will leave you more time after the set work hours where you can freely enjoy yourself. Your brain is actually terrible at multi-tasking, making you slower at each of the tasks you are really trying to do simultaneously, and over time multi-tasking can actually hurt your brain chemistry and makeup.
- Separate work from pleasure. Hold yourself accountable for meeting a certain level of completion during the day before you take a break. Make breaks timed if you have only limited free time at this stage of your life. Schedule plans with friends – even an hour with a buddy at coffee or the gym once or twice a week can be really rejuvenating!
- Journal regularly. BRAIN DUMP! Do this before you go to bed each night so you can let the pages own your worries and you can let go into blissful sleep more quickly.
Rozalyn Davis holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S., Chemistry, from Purdue University. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and environmental sustainability.