Finding Work-Life Balance

We always seem to hunker down in the winter.  Whether it’s the cold (like here) or the lack of sunshine (like Berlin), January and February can start to really drag on.  This year, I started combatting it with overworking.

That was a bad mistake.  Days felt overloaded instead of simplified.

Finding a work-life balance is a constant struggle.

I want to make Gadanke the best that it can be.  I also want a clean house and homemade dinners and and and… I didn’t know where to stop.  With Martin completely engaged in school, I didn’t know how to separate my roles.  He’s up until 2:00 in the morning with school; I felt guilty walking away from the computer at dinner.  So I kept going back.  I was crossing off business goal after business goal, but I wasn’t as efficient or as  happy as I wanted to be.

So I set up a plan.  I’m incorporating a built-in schedule of work-life balance.  It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. Here are a few tips that are working for me; I hope they can help you:

1.  Stop working at a certain time.

My life doesn’t belong to the little white screen at my desk.  So I set a quitting time.  It’s pretty hard when my desk is in the bedroom and each room is divided by a long canvas curtain instead of a fourth wall.  Yes – I am Gadanke and Making This Home.  But I am also me.

2.  I don’t blog every day.

Maybe you noticed that.  I stopped writing posts the night before I’d let myself go to bed.  I stopped stressing about not having a blog post every day.  I write when I feel like I have something to share.  Later, I’ll probably create a schedule for days that I want to be sure to post.  But maybe not.  This decision to step back has been the most freeing thing I’ve ever done.

3.  Evenings are for hobbies and family/friend time.

Are there things you love to do when you’re not working?  What’s something you like that has nothing to do with work or running your household?  Happiness comes more plentifully when we’re doing these things or being with people we love.

4.  Work is more efficient when it’s limited.

When I know what time I have to quit and I also know what I want to achieve, a little less time is spent poking around the internet.  The biggest challenge now is trying to stop thinking about work so much when I’m done for the day.

5.  When I think of something during off-hours, I write it down.

I don’t sit down and do it.  I don’t figure it all out.  I just write it down.  It’s something I’ll take care of tomorrow.

6.  Sundays are work-free.

I’ve talked a lot about Sundays in Germany: all the stores are closed.  People have the day off.  It completely changes their perspective on the entire week.

Students can’t always do that, so I figured that if Martin kept working, I needed to, too.  So now even if we’re not going anywhere or don’t have any plans, I keep my Sundays work-free.  Those Germans know what they’re talking about.

7. Work could never stop if I didn’t draw the line.

The internet has made us a world of 24/7 work.  But it doesn’t mean that you and I need to work or be available to work 24/7, too.  Our jobs are not us.  They are a part of us.  We are so much more than that.  We just have to know when to shutdown the work version of ourselves and embrace all of the other beautiful pieces.

I *think* that I am getting there.

How about you?  Have you struggled with this balance?  Have you found ways to make it work?  I’m still learning; please share your thoughts.