Work life balance is a subject that I find super fascinating. As a writer and editor, I work for myself and have figured out how to be productive, find motivation daily, and, yes, take some time off, too. But it’s not always that simple and I know I’m not the only one who struggles to find balance sometimes.
I turned to my blogging community to discover how other people think about these things. Today is the first of a two-part series where I interview 7 bloggers about work/life balance. I loved getting their insight and think you will too!
From top left: Allie McDonald, Development Assistant at a commercial real estate firm and blogger at Miss Allie’s Kitchen
Meah Konstanzer, 10th grader and blogger at Pilates Pearls and Peanut Butter
Claire Branigin, biology major and blogger at My Pink and Green Life
Ellen Slater, economics major and blogger at My Uncommon Everyday
What’s your definition of work/life balance? Do you think it’s possible?
Allie: I do think it is possible, but I don’t think I’ve reached it. My ideal work/ life balance would have more flexibiity than I do now. In a perfect world, I would love to be able to stop working after dinner every night and have weekends be totally free (besides for maybe some social media engagement).
Meah: Honestly, I’m not the greatest at finding balance. I’m a busy bee, so I often overwork myself and get stressed. Lately I’ve really been working on this. I’ve had to accept that I can’t do it all and be it all. Some days, yeah homework and sleep take priority over exercise, and that’s okay! I’d love to put up two blog posts a week, but I’m just not in a place to do that right now, and that’s okay! Work/life balance is totally possible when you’re realistic with yourself and know when to take a step back.
Claire: I think that a work/life balance is one where you don’t feel like you’re sacrificing your sanity in exchange for success! It looks different for everyone, and I do think it’s possible to have one, but it requires making sacrifices. For example, this trimester at school I decided to take a lighter course load than I usually do so that I’d have more time for the things that make me happy: blogging, writing, tutoring, and spending time with people. I had to give up the opportunity to take another cool class, and maybe it won’t look as good on my transcript, but my life is so much better and more balanced than it was last year!
Ellen: Haha. Well, by coming to the University of Chicago, I have learned that I want one because it’s quite academically rigorous, and I often don’t have that balance, really. During much of the school year, I’m comfortable giving myself one afternoon fully off of “work” each week.
I think that balance looks like a place where you don’t feel stuck in either “work stuff” or “life stuff”. It’s where you get to enjoy your hobbies, your work, and some completely unproductive/relaxing time. That place exists, but I think it’s precarious, imperfect, and evolving constantly. I think it means different things to different people at different times in their lives. I’m absolutely willing to give up some of that balance to get as much as I can out of my time at school, but I’m also willing to sacrifice perfect grades for some of that balance. That said, I know I want a job that allows me to have a little more off time!
What is your number one way to relax?
Allie: I do really love to cook! Cooking and snuggling under my favorite blanket absolutely relaxes me.
Meah: Post workout, sweatpants, Netflix, blogs, and good food. Now that’s relaxing!
Claire: Reading with a mug of tea or taking a walk through my college town (especially at this time of year when the leaves are so beautiful)!
Ellen: That’s tough. If I’m feeling energetic, I like to do yoga or cook. If I’m exhausted and just need a break, I like to curl up in bed and watch Netflix.
How do you deal when you feel stressed out or overwhelmed?
Allie: I am learning I need to take a timeout. That may mean going to the gym or for a run, sitting down for 20 mins, or straightening up a portion of my house to feel accomplished.
Meah: Like I said, I have a bad past with stress. In times of anxiety and business, I’ve been working on learning to simplify things and really get in tune with my body. When I’m stressed I get really run down and tired, so sometimes I skip my workout and opt for a nap or can’t imagine doing anything but some yoga or taking a walk. Other times, I want to run fast or do HIIT to work out anxiety. And heck, if my stressed out brain wants some dark chocolate or nut butter at every meal, so be it! I really think mindfulness is the best way to break down stress and start feeling better.
Claire: When I get overwhelmed with worry about grades or feel like I can’t get everything done, I recognize it as a sign that I haven’t been taking enough “me time.” So I stop! I stop working, get up, go for a walk, read or write, or make myself a snack. Talking with my friends or family is also a huge stress reliever. Input from other people can definitely help keep situations in perspective.
Ellen: I talk to someone. Getting all the thoughts out of my head and into the world helps me a lot. Also, my family and friends can usually provide some perspective that makes me feel better.
What’s your ultimate comfort food?
Allie: For sure chicken noodle or wanton soup!
Meah: Ooo, that’s a tough one! At the moment, I’m in the mood for some warm, melty brownies (I’ve been using the Simple Mills Chocolate Muffin & Cupcake Mix), heavy on the dark chocolate chips. Not gonna lie, on busy weekend days when we’ve had a late lunch and aren’t really in the savory mood, my mom and I will do brownies for dinner.
Claire: A meal made by my mom. Everything tastes better when your mom makes it, it’s a proven fact. Right now, I could really go for a bowl of her chili or a piece of her chocolate chip pumpkin bread.
Ellen: Chipotle followed by ice cream!
Stay tuned for next Tuesday for Part 2 of the series!
What’s your definition of work/life balance? How do you relax?