Career Stuff, Productivity & Motivation, Well Being & Mental Health

The Evening Trap (On Work-Life Balance)

I’m sitting in front of my laptop after a day of employability workshops, training, and networking with UpRising in Manchester. Currently sporting J’s fluffy blue dressing gown, hair scraped back into a messy bun, and yet to take out my contact lenses I’ve been spread out on the bed for the past hour since getting home exhausted and sweaty. Watching episodes of an American sitcom, and between handfuls of popcorn I silently moan at my work-life balance (or lack of).

This picture may be familiar to some of you. Get up early, hurriedly get ready for work, travel, go to work, travel home, collapse into a heap, scrape together dinner, get ready for bed, repeat. I’ve fallen into this pattern before; when I was working in London and had a commute of over an hour each way, staying in the office til 7 some nights, my evenings were far from productive. Now I’m travelling to Manchester every day my commute door to door is just over an hour, and I find myself slipping back into those bad habits.

I want to use my evenings for creative time, for writing and finding new blogs to follow.

I’d planned to work on my new #AwkwardBloggingFriends project too. Instead this week I’ve just watched several episodes of modern family, eaten mostly rubbish food and procrastinated on social media. It’s not that I’m lazy (well maybe a little bit) but more that I’m tired. It’s partly physical, but mostly my brain is slightly overwhelmed by being out of the house all day surrounded by other people, and having no time to myself to think or decompress. I’m fine talking to people and getting involved in groups, but it takes a lot from me mentally, and I need a rest to level out again. By the time I’ve done that though, it’ll be pretty much time to go to bed. Even getting my clothes and food ready for the next day has been difficult, as my brain struggles to decide what to have for breakfast and lunch, then I have to gamble with if the kitchen is being used by one of our flatmates or not. I know part of that is down to me being incredibly awkward, but it’s also about personal space… Anyway that’s a post for another day! What I’m trying to say is that I’m struggling a lot with doing anything productive in the evening. So I wanted to take the time to sit down, figure it out and try to improve.

I read a post from Holly over on A Branch of Holly this week which really spoke to me on the issue.

She talks about how she’s reclaiming her evenings, and once again she wrote it at the perfect time for me! You can check out her post hereWhat I love about Holly’s blog is that she always gives tips along with personal anecdotes. Her advice is easy to put into practice, and you can see that it works as she’s done it herself.

My dilemma with evenings is sort of the other side of the coin to my Self Care Sundays post last week on making time for yourself. As well as making time to chill I also want to make time to be productive and get things done. It’s a contradiction when I do get free time – on the one hand I feel like I need to take some me-time, but I also want to work on projects and stuff. Usually I end up dithering in the middle of the two, and wasting most of my time procrastinating.

The only way I can see to get past this is to schedule everything, including my free time.

I’ve always struggled with sticking to schedules and routines, but I also know that when I do keep to them I get a lot more done. So for the week ahead I’m making a timetable/calendar of what I’ll do in the evenings, and also my plans for next weekend. Hopefully it will help me focus more on the things that are important to me, and spend less time procrastinating. I’m scheduling in writing time, job application time, and crucially, time for myself as well. With everything set out, including breaks, hopefully I’ll have more perspective on the time I really have, and will feel more motivated to use it how I really want to.

Only time, and a good amount of determination will tell if this helps.

In theory it’s a great plan, but I’ve pretty much spent the past 8 or so years of my life trying to find the ‘perfect’ productivity method for me. Of course I know that perfect doesn’t really exist, but so far not much has seemed to stick. Aside from a box full of notebooks, a Google Play account littered with task and planning apps, and countless bookmarked articles on the latest productivity hacks, I don’t have much to show for it. So maybe getting (somewhat) back to basics will help. I’ve changed my Google Calendar view to show me daily as a default, and am breaking up my time from when I wake up until I go to sleep. This may seem a bit extreme, but hopefully it will help keep me on track somewhat. I’ll report back at the end of next week!

There’s no Self Care Sundays post this week as I’ve been too busy to decide what to write about (somewhat ironically given what I talked about last week!) I’m going to paint my nails again and do a face mask this evening though, so that’s my self-care for the weekend. 

How do you plan your time, and ensure you get the things you want done? Share your productivity tips, tricks, and hacks with me in the comments, or over on Twitter or Facebook!

Remember to use your time wisely; the time will pass no matter what you do, so you may as well do something good.

Have a great evening,

Jenny

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