“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” – Dolly Parton
There used to be an attitude that the harder, faster, longer you work, the more you get done. Thankfully this way of thinking is no longer a majority outlook, and more importantly, is not true. Working until you drop, pushing until you burn out, is no good at all. It is not productive and is damaging to the self in a number of ways: It plays heavy on your long-term mental health, impacts your physical health and puts strain on your relationships.
Sometimes we are so busy sprinting towards our goals that we forget to enjoy the run. In fact, do you even need to run? Maybe jog for a bit, or stop to take in a view or to meet a nice dog? There is nothing wrong with ambition at all, but there will be little pay-off if, when you reach your ambition, you don’t have a life within which to enjoy your achievements. Make sure you give your ‘life’ as much attention as you career… do not let yourself become the collateral damage to your own appetite for compliance and success.
1. Learn How to Say ‘No’
This is one of the best things I have personally ever learnt to do. I was an absolute ‘yes man’. That doesn’t mean to say that I do not err on the ‘yes’ side any longer, because I like to be able to please others. But for some time, I didn’t care about myself enough to ever say ‘no’. So next time something is asked of you that might be a bit beyond your job description, or something that you know will put some kind of strain on you, wait for a second before you answer. Is it something you really want to say ‘yes’ to? And if ‘no’ does end up being in the answer do not make excuses to justify your decision; just be honest.
2. Leave Work at Work
This is becoming an increasing problem as our work hours and work locations become more flexible. It is quite easy to leave work in its place when your job is a 9-5 located in a specific place. But now, more of us are working remotely, with flexible, or self-imposed working hours. This way the lines between work and home can become blurred, and it is easy to overstretch yourself. There are a few easy fixes. First, if you work from home, or set your own hours, simply designate working hours and stick to them. Next, and this applies to everyone; no work e-mails out of work hours. The fact that we are constantly contactable can sometimes leave to incognito overtime!
3. Don’t Pick Up the Slack of Others
Some of us are just hard wired to do stuff that needs to be done, whether it is our responsibility or not. Sure, don’t stop doing this entirely, it’s great to support colleagues if they need help. But as soon as it extends beyond your working hours or impacts on your happiness… then it is time to stop. It’s not your job!
4. Know Yourself
What are your tendencies? When are you at peak productivity and at what time of day do you struggle? Why is this important? Well, it’s about scheduling tasks. If you are not a morning person, but often schedule tough or high-concentration tasks first thing, then you might want to think about re-juggling that. This not only leads to a more productive use of your time, but also means that you are less likely to get frustrated over tasks that you are struggling with because you have attempted to tackle them at the wrong time of day.
5. Take Breaks
We have all thought to ourselves ‘right, I’m going to finish this and then take a break’, only to then find that we are finding it tricky to meet that short-term target. Often, taking short breaks when our body tells us that we need them and coming back to tricky tasks with fresh energy means the job is actually done quicker and more comfortably than if you had just ‘smashed through’. Don’t be proud about needing rest periods, this ultimately leads to stress and unnecessary overtime.
6. Quality Time with What You Love
Why are we here? Why do we make a living if not to enjoy the things that we love? As a famous fictional wizard once said, ‘It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.’ You should be spending just as much time doing the things you love as earning money to support the lifestyle of your dreams. Do what you want to do now, you never know when the opportunity to enjoy those things will disappear. Live your life now, not in your head in 20 years’ time!
By Chris Thomson
Another thing you should probably take some time for is a little self-love. Here, try some of these… 7 Practices for Self-Love
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