The Work-Life Balance

Is it a myth?

Most people will probably agree that working life can be tough. Getting to where you want to in life whether it is a personal/professional/career goal takes a lot of work and dedication… I’ve always worked hard and I don’t regret it. Back when I was in studying for my GCSE’s I was the extra curricular girl who spent her lunch times at Student Cabinet meetings.

At university I had a part-time job just so I could afford to live in London and continue my studies without having to ask family for money. I would much rather work ridiculous hours and juggle it all than ask anyone for help. I remember finishing night shifts on placement and then heading straight to my part time job. Some days I’d have been awake over 24 hours just so I could pay my rent and become a Midwife. I pushed myself to the limit. I missed out on several family events and did not get to socialise half as much as I expected to at university.

Was it worth it?

I am a firm believer that to achieve results you have a personal responsibility to put the effort in. There is a well known Islamic story with the message from the Prophet (p.b.u.h) being:

“Tie your camel first, and then put your trust in Allah…”

You cannot expect results if you don’t have the patience and the drive to put the work in first. So I guess the long weeks and lack of social life was worth it. It got me to where I wanted to be (at this point in my life) and Alhamdullillah I am able to see the fruits of my labour.

The transition from student to full time employee who is suddenly responsible to take care of lives. The best thing I ever did for myself was take a four month break before I began my career in Midwifery. I continued with my part-time tutoring job, moved back home, went on holiday and attended numerous interviews to build up my skills. It was a well needed break. My logic was that I would never be able to take time off like this again, so why not make the most of an opportunity that has presented itself. Yes I started working a few months later than most but what’s the rush? On average a female in Europe will spend 33.4 years of her life working, I simply took out 4 months to enjoy myself!

I worked myself to the ground whilst at university with the hope that once I qualify I will have a much better work-life balance. I will be able to do the things that I couldn’t when studying, working part-time and turning up for placement! Apparently I now have more free time than I used to but I just cannot seem to strike that perfect balance. It sometimes feels like a constant clash between trying to complete all these tasks I set out for my days off and actually taking a day off before having to go back to work. It is difficult when work is 12 hour day/night shifts that change weekly! On top of a full time job, I’m in the process of setting up a company, I’ve started a little side hustle by selling original paintings and I have a blog which I love but am not so great at updating!

I asked my friends and Instagram followers their thoughts on how to achieve the perfect work-life balance. I’ve decided to trial out 5 key tips and incorporate them into my life over the coming weeks and see if it works for me. I understood that one shoe does not fit all so I’ve adjusted them slightly to fit with my life but they are as follows:

  1. Allocate one day a week that will be completely digital free – no phone, no social media, no news and no television. I’m a serial meme sender/texter/fast replier/online shopper so this will be a challenge but I do love a good challenge
  2. Make sure I have something exciting planned at least twice a month (given what my working week usually looks like this is probably the most realistic approach for the day to day work-life balance)
  3. Weekly to do lists – note down what I wish to achieve that week. This has worked really well for me in the past
  4. Allocate times for work/career related tasks on my days off and attempt not to get distracted when completing these tasks
  5. Set myself a work curfew to ensure I spend evenings winding down whether it be prayer, a cup of tea and biscuits, watching a movie or finishing a book I’ve started.

The plan is to try and stick to these 5 tips for the next month or so. Notice I have avoided things like changing my diet or exercising more because I am trying to be realistic by not adding more to an already busy schedule. From my list and suggestions from friends it seems as though a lot of time will be spent on better organising my time to make time for fun activities, relaxation, winding down and all that jazz! I will try and document these changes over the next month and see if I feel any different. The aim is to be just as productive in regards to my career but have more time to unwind.

I am actually super excited to trial this mini life experiment, if you guys have any extra tips feel free to share.

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