Throughout my life, I have always struggled to find the right balance between working and relaxing. I tend to lean on either side for too long and end up neglecting my responsibilities or my health. My life is not very stable at the moment, but I wouldn’t ask for it any other way. With a constant flow of work, phone calls, emails, and things to be done, I am always making an effort to reach that perfect equilibrium.
This time last week, I felt bored. I had completed a lot of the work I needed to do and had more time on my hands than usual. I remember feeling frustrated and lazy; there was, of course, research or communications I could be doing, but I didn’t think any of it would truly benefit my projects at the moment. I try to not work just for the sake of working, especially when what I produce ends up being useless or unnecessary to whoever I’m working with at the moment. During this period, I read a lot, explored Montreal, and continued my day-to-day blogging and outreach work.
Today, however, is a different day. My to-do list is probably the longest it has been since I moved to Montreal. A lot of the tasks are menial and simple to complete, but I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of them. People drop projects, need more information, want help in different places, etc. Work springs up quickly and often catches me by surprise.
Today, someone dropped a massive project and then someone else dropped that right into my lap. I have associated with this project already, so I understand why the responsibility fell to me to complete it, but I will admit that I am worried about my distance from the “client.” I’ll be back in New Mexico for the first three weeks of August to complete an internship, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to work with this organization remotely until then.
Finding the balance between distance, responsibilities, physical and mental health, and enjoying your life is a big challenge for everyone. I find that setting a beginning time, a lunch break, and an end time helps. Sometimes, working from home can feel like time travel. You sit down to send one email at 9 am, and suddenly it’s 6 pm and you haven’t eaten or moved all day. This, in some ways, is good, it means you enjoy your work. In other ways, you won’t be adding value to anything if you sustain this type of lifestyle for too long.
When I was a junior in high school, I would watch my grades religiously. I updated the app on my phone after every class and made a note of every assignment and grade shift. I remember crying myself to sleep one night after watching my history grade drop from a 92 to an 89. The next morning, I woke up in a daze and decided that I was due for a reality check. Metrics, data, scores, grades, views, followers, paychecks, and other forms of success through numbers are fantastic ways to measure how much your work is paying off, but they are easy to become addicted to.
Measure your success by those numbers if you so choose, but measure it by other means as well. Measure your success by your happiness, by your quality of life, by those around you, by how you feel in your mind and body. There are many other ways to appreciate your work. To thrive, you have to think about the balance between work and play. Having adequate amounts of both will benefit your success in every aspect of life.