Remembering the Importance of Work-life Balance after Labor Day

Work and life balance written on chalkboard

Recently, we celebrated the last long weekend of the summer. In honor of Labor Day, workers vacated their cubicles, turned on their out-of-office notifications and had a great BBQ with their friends and neighbors.

Did you join in the fun? Did you take advantage of the R&R? Or did you hunker down at your desk to catch up or get ahead while your colleagues took advantage of the bonus day off?

Many of us will confess to working during the recently holiday weekend. Even if you didn’t, you probably couldn’t resist checking your emails, working a little bit on a project, proofing a paper, or fine-tuning a presentation during your time off.

Maybe it’s because we’re so burdened with work, overtasked and understaffed, or because we feel we need to get some more work done to earn overtime hours, or to get ahead in order to impress the boss and perhaps earn a raise. The bottom line is that there was most likely SOME time that you were working on your “time off.”

Many American Workers Don’t Mind Working

Americans thrive off of being overworked, overbooked, and overcommitted. We only start getting nervous when there isn’t enough to do with nothing to monopolize our time. But there is a big difference between being busy and being productive. Think about it.

Is there a way that you could do less during your off-hours, but give 100 percent of your time during your working hours?

The truth is that we will never truly catch up with our work. New assignments, new problems to deal with, and new work-related reading will always pile up on our desks. You always have more to do, and just as you manage to answer all your emails, your inbox will fill up again.

The key here is working smart, so that when the next holiday rolls around, you can afford to take the time off and enjoy yourself.

Work Smarter, Enjoy Your Next Holiday

Alone time and rest days can make you more efficient.

Everyone needs a break. When you spend time away from your work, you can gain perspective and the clarity necessary to make the best decisions when you ARE working.

Resting your mind and doing menial or repetitive work for a change—like your house chores—frees the creative part of your mind to “just wander.” That’s why people often have lightbulb moments while showering, cleaning, or running.

Nurture your creativity.

Take the time to try something new. If you’re always doing the same thing, you can get stuck in a rut. Try new foods, see new places, take a different route to where you’re going, and wear something different. Take up an art in your free time, play music, write poetry or a short story, even if you’re not great at it. Trying something new can unstick your brain and make you work faster.

Teach someone something.

Are you a great writer? Can you knit like nobody’s business? Are you an excellent chef? You know how to do all these things, but teaching it to someone else will let you see it in a whole new light. It’s a win-win situation.

Try spending time in a different place.

If you’re always stuck in your tiny 5’ x 6’ office, it’s hard to get new inspiration. Take yourself somewhere completely new. Experiment with where, when, and how you relax and let the creativity flow. You might come up with a solution for that problem that’s been brewing in your head for weeks.

Spend time with people who enrich your life.

Whether it’s spending time with your kids, friends, or people that you admire, spending time with people who make your life better is never a waste of time. You might regret working long hours someday, but you will never regret spending time with your family and friends. So… on the next long weekend, make sure you turn off your phone and turn your attention to the people who matter.