Excluding the hours you spend at work, what do you occupy your time with? These pastimes or hobbies could be self-justifiable as your attempt at finding balance, but they could be much more.
1. If you spend more than one hour a day, multiple days a week on a particular activity ask yourself why. There’s a definite possibility the perpetuated action is non value added to your life.
2. Compile a list of activities (excluding work for now) that you spend at least 3-4 hours per week doing.
a. Exclude activities related to continued education. Although continued education can be a coping mechanism in itself, it is a value added activity geared toward the long term enrichment of your life.
b. Carefully analyze any activities that seem mindless in nature (i.e. Netflix, video games, TV, etc.) Balance is paramount to maintaining mental and emotional stability, but be careful that these particularly mindless activities are not coping mechanisms. Coping mechanisms are developed both consciously and unconsciously to combat anxiety, stress or other volatile environments. Being drawn to mindless activities can be justified in moderation, but in excess can be your mind distancing itself from particular activities, people, feelings or thoughts.
c. Group non-work activities by social and nonsocial. Do you spend an overwhelming amount of time being antisocial outside of your workplace? This is more common in introverts. If this alone time allows for introspection, try to determine why being alone is truly appealing to you.
d. Now time to look at your job! How many hours does it require you to work per week? A typical full time week is 40 hours, but does your workload cause you to do more? Or, do you keep yourself at work longer than 40 hours, because there’s something outside of work that you’re avoiding (i.e. relationships, responsibilities, or the activities mentioned above in A-C)?
3. Balance is a universal goal, regardless of culture, industry or marital status, but why is it so elusive? The difficulty arises from the plethora of psychological variables added each time another person impacts your life. The unique mix of stress and anxiety within all of us is all much more manageable as we develop more of an awareness of the inputs that feed our outputs. Meaning – it’s not about the conclusion we have reached; it’s why we reached that conclusion. The end objective after all is to have that perfect balance between passion and productivity (through relationships, career, purpose and other avenues in life).