Wake, work, sleep, repeat. Wake, work, sleep, repeat. If you feel like your work-life has gotten out of hand— dipping into every moment of free time available, and endlessly stretching into the horizon— then, you need to start setting boundaries between work and the rest of your life. I know it’s much easier said than done, especially depending on your financial situation, but it’s absolutely necessary.
After all, the world will always find new work to give you to fill up your free time. But ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what your time is dedicated to. If you’ve noticed that you’ve become a bit more high-strung than usual, or even worse, have burnt-out into a flattened malaise, it’s time to re-think your priorities.
a) Cultivate your Hobbies
It can be tempting to slug-out in front of the TV after a long day of work. But doing this routine day after day can quickly leave you feeling burnt-out and longing from not doing something personally fulfilling.
Try to set aside time in your day to dedicate yourself to something you love doing. Whether it’s rediscovering an old activity that you used to enjoy or picking up a new skill, find something into which you can throw your head and heart.
Over time, the development of these hobbies will leave you with a meditative task that you can go to whenever you have a stressful day.
b) Create work boundaries
A full-time job takes up a third of your day, plus the amount of time you dedicate to getting ready and the length of your commute. That’s a lot of time to dedicate to your job that you’ll never get back. While it’s tempting to collect those overtime cheques, you have to stop and wonder whether or not the money will be worth it in the long run.
For those of us who are workers, the owners or those who have found our homes have also become our offices, creating a boundary necessary. Otherwise, you’ll never feel like work never ends, and there’s no space where you can ‘escape’ from work.
Build-in this escape by limiting your workspace to one section of the house, if you work from home, clock out strictly at your clock-out time and keep all work-related tasks to those hours.
c) Maintain a healthy diet
Cooking a well-rounded meal after a long day of work can sometimes be unfeasible. Nowadays, there is a bevvy of apps to deliver single meals from nearby restaurants with the touch of a button. However, it’s necessary to maintain a well-balanced diet without the overload of salts, grease, and sweeteners in take-out and processed foods.
Per Harvard Medical School, what you eat can significantly impact your mood, with ‘traditional’ diets lower the risk of depression between 25 and 35%. Being malnourished, in addition to overworked, can exacerbate stress levels.
Pre-planning meals and meal-prep can help you keep your diet (and budget) in check. According to the NHS, aim for at least two nutrient-rich meals each day and 6-8 glasses of water a day. Don’t forget to also get regular exercise, even if it’s a 30-minute brisk walk.
d) Do Nothing
Yep, that’s right, do nothing. Block out a portion of your calendar to do nothing. You don’t want to clog up all your free time with activities with no time to rest. Otherwise, your over-stimulated mind might crash, leaving you to veg out on the couch for weeks on end. A better alternative is to keep some of your free time free.
That way, if you feel like catching up on your favorite programs, engaging in one of your hobbies, or going out, you have the flexibility to do so without feeling guilty.
If you realize that the feeling of being overwhelmed is creeping up on you during the week, don’t be afraid to rearrange and clear some of your schedules and decompress on your own terms.
e) Plan in advance
Managing your work time can ensure that you meet your deadlines promptly so that you’re not overwhelmed in the future or failing to fulfill your obligations.
Having a clear timeframe on when you can complete your task, in addition to some wiggle room for flexibility can help you keep track of your duties and visualize your workload. It also helps you recognize when you’re becoming overwhelmed in advance, so you won’t overwork yourself.
Break your workload down into timed intervals of roughly 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute rest. At the fourth rest, take a 15-30 minute break.