As an RA in college, we talked a lot about burnout – completely breaking down because of the overwhelming amount of tasks we’re responsible for every day. We were full time students, active participants in various clubs, and RA’s, which is a 24-hour job. Not to mention homework, group projects, work, etc.
Someone once described the work-life balance to me as being represented by soup pots. Imagine, if you will, that you are a big ole’ pot of soup. Every time you help someone else, or give a little bit of yourself to your work, you dole out a ladle of soup. What you’re supposed to do is take a little time for yourself every now and again, in order to restock your pot. If you don’t, though, what little soup left in your pot will start to burn, and eventually you’ll just be scraping at the bottom.
More often than not, I find myself scraping the burned remnants of soup off the bottom of my pot. This past weekend was a lovely change from that – my company had their annual holiday party, and I spent a whole day exploring Chinatown, eating sweets, and watching Broad City with my friend.
I think the key ingredient, thought, to this refreshing weekend was really that I re-routed my work emails to a different inbox on my phone. Instead of coming to my main inbox, they went into a little folder that I promised myself I wouldn’t check until Monday. It can be so difficult to “switch off”. Our email and texts are constantly with us in our pockets, and so it gets difficult to say no when a boss sends you a little something over the weekend.
I am the type of person who will give 110% all the time (hence my burned and charred soup pot), weekends and early mornings included. In all, I probably work 55+ hours a week, and that’s just at my first job! I understand that as a young professional, this is the point in my life when it will be most beneficial to be working these long hours, but a line has to be drawn somewhere. I couldn’t understand why I was so tense on the weekends, until I realized that every time I checked my phone, there was a new email that reminded me about work issues.
The United States is sadly not a culture of “switching off”. Countries like Denmark and Norway rank more highly in terms of work-life balance, because they discourage unpaid overtime and irregular work schedules and encourage time spent on “leisure and personal care”.
Well, I for one like the sound of that. This week, I’m going to focus on keeping work at work, and spend a little more of my free time prepping for my flight home for Xmas on Friday!!!