How to integrate work or school into your life
Life is hectic — that’s the reality we live in now. Getting the kids ready in the morning, rushing to class or to the office, battling traffic, trying to find a moment to schedule that dentist appointment, clearing time to hit the gym or study during the day. Whatever activities fill your calendar, finding ways to integrate your work or school and your life takes effort.
My patients often tell me that they have trouble separating work or school from their personal life, and many times find themselves preoccupied — most often thinking about work or school stressors during their personal time, but sometimes finding personal matters clouding their class time or working hours. Either way, they find themselves feeling run down and struggling to focus.
Comments that I hear most often include:
- Deadlines: Every hour is committed on my calendar.
- Long hours: The “in-box” is always full at work.
- There isn’t enough time for the people in my life (including myself).
- I never have the time to do the things I used to love doing.
- These times are so uncertain, and I worry about keeping my job.
- I’m afraid to let anyone down because so many people are depending on me.
Completely separating work or school and personal lives isn’t realistic. Instead, look for ways to integrate both into your calendar. Here are a few suggestions that I like to share with my patients about how they can balance time for themselves with their other commitments:
- Let go of what you cannot control. If you don’t have influence over a situation, don’t devote time to worrying about it.
- Don’t overcommit. Prioritize your activities. It’s OK to say “no” without having to explain why.
- Break down the big projects into manageable portions. When a big project leaves you feeling overwhelmed, try approaching it from a “bite-size” perspective. Identify what needs to be done first, then second, and so on. Write it down in order, one small task at a time.
- Ask for help. We all need it from time to time, so don’t be afraid to ask the people around you to lend a hand when you need it.
- Make sure you take time to work AND to play. Don’t cancel the plans you made with friends or family for work. It is important to be unavailable sometimes, which also means turning off the work phone and stepping away from email.
- Schedule “me” time. Take time to do things that recharge your battery, like exercise, getting a massage, or doing your favorite hobby.
Navigating a hectic schedule is not easy, and conflicts and stress are a part a life that can’t always be avoided. But learning to integrate the activities that fill your calendar can go a long way to helping improve your quality of life.
Lindsey Gerdes, DO, is a family medicine physician at the Kaiser Permanente Greeley Medical Offices.