We all want work-life balance, but for many people, it’s becoming an increasingly elusive pursuit. Our lives become increasingly busy as we take on more challenging tasks and handle the full responsibilities of an independent adult living in today’s world.
People often go to great lengths to delegate tasks and let others handle challenging responsibilities. We value the ability of an IT support partner to take over complex tasks and solve problems on their behalf, but what do we do with that newfound spare time? Often, we simply throw themselves into more work.
Maybe you perceive leisure as a waste of time or believe that always putting work first is the best way to advance your career quickly. But enjoying different pursuits in life and making time for them is what helps to balance the work-life equation. Here’s why you need to prioritize leisure in a way that sustains and furthers your career.
We hear from childhood that “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” yet the balance is continuously shifting towards the former. And though we’d like to blame our jobs or bosses for that phenomenon, experts suggest that many people prefer it that way. We allow work to take over our lives.
Some people fear that taking too much time off creates a negative perception at work. Even at companies with unlimited vacation policies, employees tend to use only half of their allotted vacation days. From their perspective, taking a break equates to idleness. And if you think along these lines, time off will foster negative perception among employers. It can hurt your career prospects.
Others might feel that they simply can’t take their mind off work. Even on their days off, they check their emails and process thoughts or tasks related to their jobs. When the boundaries between work and personal life get blurred in this way, it becomes difficult to enjoy your free time.
However, rest is necessary for your well-being. It counterbalances the effects of stress and gives you the chance to recharge and approach work with renewed focus and intensity.
No one would argue that four two-hour naps provide the same restful benefits as eight straight hours of sleep. Quality matters. And giving yourself the freedom to enjoy your days off will increase the quality of your leisure activities.
Shaping your fit
Sometimes in a job interview, the hiring manager will ask a candidate, “What do you do in your spare time?” This question doesn’t come from casual interest, nor does it serve as a conversation starter. Many employers are genuinely interested in finding out where their potential hires take interest and occupy themselves outside of work.
For those who are concerned with self-improvement or maximizing productivity, this is an excellent opportunity to display those qualities. After all, some leisure activities are more productive than others. Reading keeps you well-informed, especially if you read books about your industry. Writing in a blog or journal might prove useful in various tasks not directly related to your job responsibilities. Taking on volunteer work demonstrates initiative and improves your collaboration and networking skills.
Above all, though, employers want to see how well you fit in with their culture. And how you spend your leisure time gives them a good idea of how well you might mesh with their team. Shared interests facilitate communication and cooperation. Sure, you might have a lot to talk about with people who binge-watch the same Netflix shows. But you probably won’t hang out with them and bond on your days off in the same way fitness enthusiasts might get together on the weekend.
Thus, not only is it vital to have a life outside of work, but you must also prioritize the right forms of leisure. Exercise, for instance, is excellent for your well-being and can bring you together with like-minded people from work. This strengthens your social interactions and gives you more enthusiasm for work.
Making room in your life for exercise and similar high-quality leisure activities will remove the feeling of guilt. You can draw a connection between your chosen form of recreation and its career benefits. There is a sense of tangible ROI.
How do we identify such worthwhile leisure activities? Research shows that if a hobby is similar to work but not serious, or dissimilar to work and serious, it will improve self-efficacy. This gives you a conviction in your abilities and leads to enduring success in your career.
Find a hobby that works along these lines. Then you can invest your spare time and effort into it and know that it won’t go to waste. It will ultimately foster a sustainable career.