In today’s dog-eat-dog world, it can be tough to justify taking breaks from work. After all, building a career often involves a series of sacrifices – and the first thing to go is invariably your leisure time. We’re here to tell you that you don’t need to give into the culture of overwork.

As it turns out, reclaiming your time and striking the proper balance between work and play can actually improve your performance in both professional and personal arenas. If you need to get your equilibrium back, give the following strategies a go.

1. Start seeing yourself as a VIP

Would you stand up a super important client or customer because another task is threatening to run overtime? Of course, you wouldn’t – so don’t bail on yourself, either!

The trick to attaining a solid work-life balance is changing the way you perceive the time that you reserve for “play”. That means valuing yourself as a VIP, and viewing your “me-time” outside of work as vital to your success, rather than optional. Start setting a regular, ‘official’ schedule for how late you plan on working each day, and rehearsing – first in front of the mirror, then in practice – how to say “no” to that colleague who never fails to harangue you just as you’re walking out of the office door.

2. Spend your play-time wisely

For many people, time off work means time spent in front of another screen for “recreational” purposes. But have you adopted this habit without actually pausing to question whether it brings you joy, or is instrumental for your personal growth? If not, maybe it’s time to review what you’re currently spending your play-time hours doing.

You don’t want to reach old age and conclude that you spent 80% of the time working, and 20% watching Netflix (or whatever its futuristic time-sucking successor turns out to be). So, put away your devices and do something spontaneous – move your body in a salsa class; go for a break to somewhere you’ve never been over the weekend; most importantly, spend time with the people you love.

Image Source: Unsplash

3.  Play via movement

Play exists in many forms. For full-time workers in particular, understanding play as an exercise-based activity is very important, since exercise will work to undo all those hours of sedentariness. Lure your colleagues into the fun by establishing a work squad for football, netball, or any other appropriate sport. Whether you break into teams at lunchtime or after work, play will be just the injection of endorphins your team needs.

4.  Make your work feel like play

Ever notice how often we mark a distinction between work and play as if the two are mutually exclusive? Well, the good news is that they don’t have to be. You can make your work feel like play in all sorts of ways.

You might, for example, add some fun visual interest to your workspace by incorporating the colours you associate with happiness. You’d be surprised what a difference this little aesthetic change can make to your attitude to work.

Image Source: Unsplash


5. Choose your culture carefully

Overworking is a cultural phenomenon, which means that it’s more endemic to some countries and regions than others. If you want the best chance of a good work-life balance without having to worry about exploitation or expectation, then, you’ll want to research your options to find a country which values the same things you do. Rather than being worked to the ground in a high-rise in America, then, opt for a position in chilled-out New Zealand; rather than working in the midst of a major city, consider a rurally-based role.

Freelance creative writer Johanna spends countless hours researching and typing away at her computer. To avoid feeling burnt out, she often retreats to her favourite nook in her home to meditate along with relaxing classical music. She spends much of her free time out at the beach or hiking. Get to know more about Jo through her writing on Musings of Johanna.

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