Chances are, even if you love your job, you want your life to be more than just work, work, work. But instead of using off-hours to pursue a new hobby, many either don’t have the energy or are still “on,” responding to constant emails.
“Technology has freed us up in many ways, but at the same time it’s imprisoned us. It’s very difficult to create boundaries,” says Brigid Schulte, author of “Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has Time.”
To help create boundaries, Schulte advises setting aside a certain time each day to check email and that’s it. She also says that leaving work “on time” won't keep you from getting ahead. “The way you get ahead is [simply] to do really great work,” she says.
The sad thing is, according to leisure researcher Roger Mannel, even when people have a block of time free, they don’t know what to do with it. That leads to mindlessly watching TV, messing around on your phone and not doing anything that leaves you feeling satisfied with how you used your time.
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“There is no rule of thumb like ‘x’ amount of leisure time makes you feel great,” Schulte says. “Control and choice are the keys.” It’s important to think about what you really want to do with your free time --- whether it’s meeting up with friends more, blogging or working out --- and then setting aside a devoted time on a regular basis where you are fully immersed and not doing it while checking your phone at the same time.
What work-life balance looks like
Craig Nevill-Manning has a demanding job as an engineering director at Google, building features like their Crisis Response organization and improving the search engine’s functions. But for years, he wanted to pursue another interest of his in his off-time: opening up a café. He opened Happy Bones café and has struck a balance between working full-time and tending to his passion project on the side.
"I have great partners, including my wife, and a great café manager,” he tells us. “And at Google, we encourage employees to have a good work-life balance.” Being honest with your managers about your outside passions and not hiding them is one key to helping you do it all; they’ll respect why you are leaving work on time. “Life is all about variety,” Nevill-Manning says. And developing a good work-life balance is part of that.