By Bennet Gibson, Graduate Counseling Intern
For recent graduates entering the workforce, the challenge to manage work and a life outside of it can be a careful balancing act. Sometimes, it can seem just plain daunting! But take heart, there is hope! Here are some practical tips to help you maintain that healthy work-life balance and keep your sanity.
1. Figure out what’s most important to you.
Would you consider yourself a person that “lives to work” or “works to live”? Do you have many hobbies and activities outside of work? Or do you spend most of your time at ‘the office’? Answering this question (to the best of your ability) from the get go will help shape your decision-making as you craft a life that is right for you.
2. Take off the geek leash (leave your work at work)
Technology in the workplace can be a blessing and a curse. The ability to make your own hours and work from home is more and more common these days. But don’t let it control you! Leverage your time well. Perhaps disable your work email on your smart phone (I call it “the geek leash”) if you have one. If you don’t want to be contacted in the wee hours of the night, don’t give out your number. Be sure to set up these boundaries from the very beginning. Every job has different expectations, so know what you’re getting into before you start a new position.
3. Learn to say no (and be ok with it!)
Creating healthy boundaries means learning to say “no” to certain requests. As much as we’d like, we can’t be in 50 places at once. Embrace that reality and prioritize to make the things that bring you joy on the forefront. Knowing what fits on your plate (remember, plates don’t grow, only the pile does!) will allow you to prevent that plate from cracking.
4. Have a good community of support
Having a healthy family and/or friends is vital to living your life well. Whether they are at work or outside of work, make sure you surround yourself with people that will support and encourage you in life and work’s ups and downs. This can take time, but cultivating healthy relationships can make your life richer.
5. Multitasking that makes sense
To save time, multi-tasking can be a good way to get things done efficiently. But, do it wisely. Don’t have too many plates spinning at once, or they could all come crashing down at the same time (yikes!). See what works for you. If you can do more than one thing well together, do it again. If you can’t, try something else. You’ll know over time what you’re capable and not capable of accomplishing.
6. Timing is everything
There’s a song lyric that goes “To everything there is a season.” And don’t forget, there is more than one season! Be at peace with the fact that some things in your life and schedule (tasks, hobbies, activities, trips) will have to wait. But just because you are putting a task on the back burner doesn’t mean that you have to snuff it out completely. You can come back to it, just maybe not right this minute.
7. Relax–On purpose.
Making time to just chill out is an important part of taking care of yourself. Go for a walk. Spend time with friends. Read a good book. Even veg out with Mr. TV for a bit. But do this intentionally. Put it on your calendar and schedule it. You won’t be able to unwind if you don’t make time for it.
Bennett Gibson is a recent Career Counselor Graduate Intern at San José State University and Web Producer for Apple, Inc., iTunes. He is a recent graduate at SJSU, earning his M.A. in Counselor Education.