Today when it came time to leave work and everyone else was turning off their computers, I didn’t want to leave. I felt I had too much left to do, but I ended going too. It forced me to think about something I’ve read about before but never really thought about: “work-life balance.”
At university, work-life balance doesn’t really exist because student life include work through extra-curriculars, you end up working all hours to finish your homework and your social life is linked with your working world. Personally, I thought I had a decent work-life balance since I never let my work interfere with my sleep but otherwise, I would work any other time of the day and I could be social at any time of the day too.
When I started working almost four months ago, I suddenly had to adjust to the “9 to 5” (actually 9:30 to 5:45 for me) life where the only time I work is in those hours and when I go home, work ends. I know a lot of people might continue working even after they’ve gotten home, but for me, many of the things I do or need I can only get at work. It took me three months to figure out how to get my work calendar on my phone and my work email still doesn’t work, meaning that it is safe to say that when I go home, I don’t have to think about work.
This can be a little frustrating, however, when, like right now, I feel that I have too many things to do and can’t possibly complete it during the working day. I want to work longer hours because what is at stake is my ability to be a good employee and ultimately help the organisation move forward. I am suddenly understanding the people who spend all their time working.
Walking home today I recognised another element in my wanting to work more and to have less of life - I live alone and I’ve suddenly got a lot of time on my hands. At university I was occupied with extracurriculars, friends who lived within walking distance and a boyfriend. Every evening I go home right now, I can do whatever I want with my time whether it is read or paint or vegetate watching videos online. That free time is daunting because I feel like I don’t want to waste it but at the same time, I’m tired from working and all I want to do is nothing. I still have a social life, but it’s less than university because everyone else has jobs and schedules and other things. I’m no longer signed up for a weekly club meeting (I did consider volunteering but as my job requires working at events in the evenings sometimes, I don’t want to commit to anything either).
The other thing about this freedom is that it makes me uncomfortable because I feel like I should be building the skills I will need in the future to be successful during all this free time, whether it is later become head of a department or start my own start-up. I should be doing something because when I am older, I will not have this freedom of time. But without knowing for certain what I will do in the future, how can I build the skills needed and how do I know that I’m not wasting my time? I am almost incapacitated from this fear which in itself is ridiculous, I’m not doing anything useful anyway with my time.
Having a life is actually more difficult than it initially seemed.