“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…”
We have all heard that common saying before, but do we apply it? As we get older, we tend to forget how to have fun. We become focused on the work that needs to be done, or perhaps we are trying to work ahead. However, we need to realize that the to-do list is never really going to be finished. There is always going to be work that needs to be done, but unless we take the time to enjoy ourselves, we aren’t always going to get to have fun.
It can be difficult not to let your working mindset carry over into your personal life. Relaxation is hard to achieve when the thought of the work that you need to do is sitting in the back of your mind. We might not have an easy, fix-all solution for that, but what we can do is remind you of how important it is to take regular breaks.
You have to take these breaks in order to achieve a work/life balance. My own way of finding this balance is through my regularly-scheduled D&D sessions every Tuesday night. I know that this is a regular occurrence set for every Tuesday, and I make myself stick to this schedule in order to maintain a break from my work life. Having this single, set thing that breaks me from my reality but forces me to do it on a regular basis has helped me tremendously in finding a work/life balance. However, it has to be something that you enjoy. You might be taking a break away from work by devoting your evenings to yard maintenance once a week, but if you don’t enjoy it, it’s not going to help you find balance. Pick something that makes you happy and stick to it.
If you don’t find a way to achieve this balance, you will suffer from burnout. Make sure you set checkpoints for yourself each week not only to ensure you are getting the work done that you want to but that you are also taking time for yourself. Don’t lie to yourself about this, either – it’s just going to speed up the burnout process. If you’re feeling like everyone around you is irritating, and things seem to be falling apart, you’ve likely already reached burnout, and it’s time to step away. At this point, it does not matter the demands you have; it’s time to take a break.
In college, I was taught that you cannot sustain a level of efficient work for more than 50 minutes at a time. If you try to focus for longer than that, you can do it – you just won’t be as efficient. Plus, the longer you do it, the more diminished your returns will be. You can work 12 straight hours on a ticket, but if you make sure to take breaks once in a while to regain your focus and clarity, you can get it done in six. Try implementing a ten-minute break into your work day every hour or so and see the difference in your productivity and efficiency. Do something that takes you away from your desk: grab a coffee, use the bathroom, read your favorite comic, etc.
Step outside your “work box” and enjoy your “home box” when the day is over. Once you find a “joy box” that makes you happy, step into it regularly, whatever it may be. Don’t be ashamed of what brings you joy, and don’t let people take your fun away because they do not consider it to be an activity for a “business owner.” Find ways to play like a kid. Have fun. Just don’t go without joy for so long that you’ve forgotten what it’s like.