How do you achieve work/life balance?
I recently finished up grad school and have entered the workforce as a mechanical engineer. Since there is so much to do, I have been staying up later to manage all the different projects I'm working on. It's a bit overwhelming. Any tips on how I can balance a heavy workload along with other parts of my life?
#worklifebalance #career #engineering #engineer
I just started my career about a year and a half ago and sometimes finding a good work life balance can be hard. One of the main things I have learned to do is saying no when something is way outside of work hours. It is still hard for me to say no to calendar invites from a boss or colleague. Unless it is an urgent matter, I have learned to prioritize my well-being and say no.
One of the other main things I do to prioritize a good work-life balance is blocking out on my calendar when I won't be available. This way everyone on your team and other colleagues know that you won't be around during that time. It's also important to make sure that you put your calendar on working hours so it is known when you will be working and when you won't be around!
Finally, if I am feeling overwhelmed I make sure to let someone on my team know! You are on a team for a reason, if someone can help, they will!
I would just say remember to put yourself first, especially if it is in a remote working environment.
Gurpreet’s Answer, CareerVillage.org Team
Work/life balance is hard and looks different for everyone. What works in one position won't necessarily work when you move to a different company. It's a lot of trial and error but here are some things that I have found work well for me:
1. Your calendar is everything! Along with using it for work, use it to make sure you schedule in self care. Taking care of yourself is one of those things we often forget about unless we are reminded to do so. This can look like blocking off time on your work calendar to take lunch, scheduling time to go to the gym, or just setting aside 15 minutes for some meditation.
2. Only do work during working hours. This might change if you're working on a project or have a big deadline approaching but try to hold yourself to only working during normal hours. Not only is this a form of self care but it also sets an expectation to your coworkers that you will be online and responsive during business hours only.
3. In the age of technology, we feel the need to be plugged into all conversations at all times. I'm guilty of having my work email and Slack available on my phone because I don't want to feel like I'm being unresponsive when people need something from me. A way to achieve balance between being informed and using your off hours for yourself is to mute notifications after a certain time (ex: 6p). The messages are still there but you aren't constantly being pinged throughout the evening.
4. This is one I personally struggle with but it's important to say no. When a colleague asks for help, it's natural to say yes and want to be helpful. Before taking on a new request, take a few minutes to assess what else you're working on and if you have the capacity to help. If you're already juggling too much, it's okay to say no or say that you can help at a later time.
Further, take the time to handle your personal life. Many times after taking on a new job I took too much focus away from my family. One year into the job I could see how stupid it was as whatever i was working on would have been fine with me giving it a little less attention.
Finally, the best advice I have ever seen is to not get good at the stupid things. As an example, if you become the best person to set up a test (or make a fancy spreadsheet, etc.), you will find that is what you are known for and will find yourself getting pulled in to do that for others. Find out what is valuable to your company and boss (and his boss) and get good at that.
Andersen recommends the following next steps:
After having the tool, I suggest you can consider below :
1. Firstly, you have to put in routine tasks you have to do everyday
2. Put in the meetings you have to attend
3. You can estimate how work you need to complete the project and break it into small tasks
4. Put these small task into the free slot of your diary every day. Remember to put some buffer in to review and make fine tuning
5. After putting in the above, you should also put in some time for your exercise, rest, leisure and meeting with friends and family.
You don't need to fill up all time slot. You can reserve some 'Me' time for reflection and relex.
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
- you will learn how to perform some tasks more efficiently, think about some automation
- prioritize tasks, you may also discuss priorities with your supervisor
- maybe you think that only you can do a certain task, but you can share it with others, ask for help
- maybe your workload is too big and you need to discuss it
- try to find things that you do not need to do - maybe some meetings?
- do not be afraid to ask for help - both when it comes to priorities and the way how to do things efficiently
Maybe you are young, enthusiastic and everyone things that you need more challenges?
I hope it will help at least a little bit and you will find balance.
Great question and I’m sure you are not the only one with this on your mind. You have some great responses and answers here.
I find it helpful to prioritize, especially when you have so many things to do. For me, faith and family come first. Care for the things that mean most to you, so you can then achieve balance in other areas of your life.
I also think it is important to make time just for your own mental and physical health. I have a favorite workout class I try to do 1 to 2 times each week. It is an hour just for myself. As others have shared, you can block times on your calendar for reading, studying, eating lunch or exercising, etc. Make time for yourself so you can do what you need to do that works best for managing stress.
On days where it is particularly hectic or stressful for me, I try to take mini-breaks and just step away for a few minutes and walk up and down stairs, or sit in a dark room and just breathe or meditate, sit or walk outside if it’s nice, pet my dogs, etc.
Best wishes for success in your educational and career goals!
Melisa recommends the following next steps:
1. Set small goals each day.
- Break large tasks into smaller, attainable daily goals. This helps provide a sense of control, and also contributes to a sense of accomplishment each day.
2. Request flexible hours or work-from-home options.
- With COVID-19, many employees are already telecommuting. Asking an employer for greater flexibility to work from home can help free up time by eliminating the commute.
3. Take breaks.
- Regular breaks don’t impede productivity. Rather, they help the mind relax and regain some strength and focus on the next project or task. Taking 5 or 10 minute breaks to grab a coffee, go for a quick walk, or simply decompress can work wonders.
4. Stay active.
- Physical activity is one of the most important components in maintaining high energy levels, robust stamina, and an elevated mood. It’s important that a worker’s home life includes regular walks, jogs, bike rides, or activities with friends or family.
5. Take phone breaks.
- The constant activity of email and social media can have a draining effect, especially when bosses and supervisors send after-hours messages. Taking some regular time to unplug and put the phone away can be a balm for mental health.
1. Designate a place that is for work purposes only. This is something that is great for work from home which I know that with your case, engineers may bring work home. If you live with multiple rooms, having a room designated to work with a door especially will help give you a place to focus and when you need to stop working, getting out of that room and shutting the door is your signal to stop thinking about work all together. The other option for this is if you are working from an establishment, once you leave those doors, no more thinking of work.
2. Don't bite off more than you can chew. It's great when you have the ability to accomplish so much. Sometimes there are times where it all piles up and it becomes overwhelming as you have expressed in your question. It's good to keep in mind as to what you have project wise going on and their status. This would be a good thing to think on to help more with your work life balance.
3. Communication with your supervisors and coworkers is definitely going to help. They are pretty much those you report to with your projects and the like. If you feel like you have taken on too much, talk to them. There is no shame in admitting the truth about the way you feel and your work. Also if you are working on a project that has multiple people, you can communicate to your coworkers to help create a balance in the project between each of you.
4. This is my last piece of advise which is if your company offers time away, USE IT. I have worked with companies that don't offer it and it was always a pain to schedule time off for vacations or unexpected sick time without pay. It's hard enough to keep a full paycheck without those benefits. If you are feeling overwhelmed and you need time to get away, use the paid vacation or sick time your company offers. You come first in health and the company would understand if you needed time to step away.
I do hope what I provided for you helps and good luck in your future endeavors.
It's also important to make time for YOU! Find what is most important to you and what brings you joy and schedule specific time for these activities. You will bring more to your work if you have some time to recharge.
All of this is easier said than done. Start slow and test the waters. See how people respond.
Finally, if you are feeling overwhelmed, talk to your manager or other trusted colleague. Make sure your manager knows how much you have on your plate. They can help prioritize. They can give advice on how to navigate internally to work more efficiently. They are invested in your success.
Best of luck! This is a common concern, especially when you are just starting out and trying to navigate everything that comes with a new role.
Now some techniques to head those kinds of situations off are to share your calendar in full detail with your boss and to leave yourself slack time throughout the day so you can absorb those inevitable fires.
Lastly, when you sign out of work. SIGN OUT. If you are on vacation, do not log in to check email or slack "real quick". Your mind, body and soul need rest from the grind.
It is hard to accomplish at any stage of your career, especially at the beginning of it. Here at the items that have help me on dealing with that.
1. Organize your time and start early.
2. Prioritize the goals and tasks to be completed, also, if you are part of a team and/or lead one, learn to delegate and make team members accountable. Set the expectations early.
3. Learn to say no. Respect yourself and your time (lunch, vacation, etc).
4. Understand that work problems or issues will ALWAYS be there, so, trying to "get ahead of the curve" is not always feasible.
5. Communicate and learn to ask for help. It can save a lot of time and actually get things done faster and with better outcome.
6. You are not your job description. Find a hobby, be active both physically and mentally.
7. Family and health are first. Prioritize that.
Hope you all find this useful.
Hope this helps and good luck!!
Join a league or team. For example if you play basketball get on a team that is in a league that plays regularly. Committing to a team with set games will commit you to get away from work. It also gives you an opportunity to meet others that have interests similar to yours and you can do other activities with them that take you away from work.
Learn a musical instrument. I play guitar and work from home. During the day I pick up my guitar and play for a few minutes to get away from work.
Meet with your manager and get a clear plan of your deliverables. If you think it is too much workload discuss with your manage how to reduce the workload so you have better work/life balance. Most managers don't want to lose good employess due to burn out so he/she should be able to adjust your workload to help with the work/life balance. If they are not willing that is a red flag to me. You probably don't want to be working for them in the first place.
Hope this helps.