Achieving a “Work Life Balance”

If you were to look at my most recent search history, you would see the following:

Since finishing my first semester of graduate school and reflecting on the experience, I have put “Find Work Life Balance” on the top of my to-do list.

I ended this semester feeling overwhelmed by all the work I completed and disappointed in the little time I spent with friends and family. I did not have a work life balance at all. Some folks on Reddit would share about how they firmly adhere to not checking emails over the weekend or pledge to only check their emails three times a day. Others would share how they only do work during the week and leave the weekends for family, friends, and fun.

Looking back on the last few months, not only would I check my email the moment I wake up, but I’d also check it at least ten times throughout the day. I would wake up at 7am and go to school or to do work in my room, and my “work day” would end at 9pm when I start my bedtime routine. The only times where I’d be able to read, write, or watch a show for fun would be during mealtimes or on my commutes on the train.

When I did have a day off. I would overload myself with shows, reading, and writing to the point of exhaustion. I would tell myself, “If I don’t do this now, I don’t know when else I’d be able to!”

As you may expect, this quickly led to me feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and envious of those that seem to have this “work life balance”. I decided to approach these individuals and ask them what their secret is. How do you achieve a work life balance?

Do what works for you.

Some people do better when they have breaks sprinkled throughout the day. Some do their best when they work for a long period and then binge on leisure activities during a longer break. Figure out what works for you! No one knows you better than yourself.

Everyone has a difference (im)balance.

A “balance” implies that things are equal on both sides of the scale. However, for “work life balance” I would argue that it doesn’t necessitate an equal balance. If working for 75% of the day and doing things you like for 25% of the day works best for you, go for it. That is your balance. A “work life balance” doesn’t have to mean 50% work and 50% life unless you want it to.

There’s no right answer.

I would often get caught in cycles of comparing myself to others unfairly. I would think to myself “They know what they’re doing” as I’m looking at others and think that what I’m doing is wrong.

While speaking with a professor, I was assured that no one really knows what they’re doing (not even my professor!). Life is a bunch of trials and errors and trying to figure out what works best for us. One method might work for now but soon after, we’d find ourselves back in this cycle of trial and error. There is no right answer that would apply forever, so freeing ourselves from this expectation that there is a right answer would lift a big load from our shoulders.


Finding a work life balance is still high on my priority list, but I also don’t imagine it to be something that I’d check off forever. As my needs, wants, and aspirations change and grow with time, so will my work life balance, and I will adjust my “balance” accordingly.

4 thoughts on “Achieving a “Work Life Balance”

  1. My years as a university grad were several decades ago.
    The reality is one has to clock in 75% of waking hrs. (or maybe abit less) to earn money…for a few decades.

    Not sure how any adult can walk away from that unless they marry someone rich and choose not to work.

    Best wishes for the future.

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    1. Thanks for your kind wishes! And exactly, even from a young age when we’re in school, we spend about 75% of our day in school. Wanting to have more of a 50%/50% balance is definitely possible but farther along the line for sure

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  2. I think trying to figure out what works best for YOU is the key. Each year or whenever, I try to reflect on whether or not something is working. Right now, I have 3 notebooks and a ToDo list on the PC. And I like it.

    One notebook is a ‘dear diary’ type, another is a planner, and the third is a ‘brainstorm’ one. But for folks who don’t like to write, or who love their phone for everything, my system would be a nightmare.

    I don’t know if this would work for you, but this month I’m trying to put a focus’ on each day of the week. For example, Monday is social media and lesson planning (because I’m a teacher). This doesn’t mean that I don’t do other things, because I do. It just is a reminder that I want to achieve this particular thing, if that makes sense.

    Good luck with curbing your phone use. I think that’s the most challenging for people. I hear of them putting it in another room. I often have mine in airplane mode.

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    1. Wow! This is super helpful. Definitely never heard of that type of approach of putting a focus on each day of the week. I’ll be sure to give that a try sometime as it might be a good way to set lots of short term goals as well! Also sounds like the type of approach to be super encouraging and would make me feel accomplished getting my daily goal done!

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