In The Work-Work Balance: 70 Hours in 7 Days, I talked about my hectic schedule. And if I’m really being honest, there are weeks when I hit 90 hours. This might surprise you, but those weeks come around more often than you might think, for a business owner.
The problem lies in the fact that I love what I do. Who thought that would be a problem, right? But sometimes it is. When your hobbies coincide with your work life, it’s difficult to reach over, hit the off switch, and just relax.
So after multiple warnings from my Dad, and way too many complaints from friends, I finally decided to try this whole relax thing. Here’s how I’ve been winding down during and after my 70 to 90 hour weeks, and how you can, too.
Needless to say, with a schedule like mine, even date night gets pencilled into my planner. If it’s not pencilled in, it might not happen. I also do this to ensure I’m never overbooked, and so I can spread out activities for work and play. This, in turn, helps me lower my hours.
Do I ever have time for impromptu romantic trips out of town, or the occasional coffee meetup in Midtown? Of course! But more often than not, if I get asked on the day, the answer is no. Even outside of work, I’m never short of plans and offers to go out, but always short on time.
When I first started my weekend job, I spent my lunchtime working. I typically don’t do client work on the weekends, but there’s plenty of back-end work to do for Alexis Chateau PR.
Recently, however, I’ve been spending my lunch time reading. Thanks to this, I’ve made good progress with George R. R. Martin’s A Feast for Crows, while also working my way through one PR textbook each month.
Reading fiction improves my creativity, while reading non-fiction makes me a smarter panda today than I was yesterday. That’s a win-win on both sides.
During the week, when I work from the home office, I spend my lunch break playing video games. Most times my game of choice is The Sims 4, but I also play Unravel. The games transport me to a fantasy world for the moment. I certainly can’t stay there, but it’s nice to visit.
If you know you’re likely to get carried away with playing video games, then set an alarm. Try to set realistic times. If you know you can’t play for less than an hour, don’t play it when you only have time for a half an hour break, and don’t set an alarm for 45 minutes.
Once you get used to ignoring the alarm, it no longer works. If you’ve ever hit the snooze button so often you start sleeping through the alarm, then you know what I mean.
As many of you know, when I work from home, I have my Goodwill Ambassador, Shadow the PR Cat, by my side. But along with being our very own PR kitty, he’s also my full-time pet.
I don’t have many stressful days, but when I do, he’s right there to make it all right again. It’s hard to stay mad at the world, when there’s goodness looking you in the face, begging for an ear-scratch and a tummy rub.
According to a Huffington Post article, there are plenty of ways our pets help to keep us sane. They reduce stress when we pet them, cure loneliness, provide a great distraction, and make us smile every day.
Since late 2016, my new gym partners have been my parents; and on occasion, Johnson Sainvil, my Senior Business Consultant. We’ve even invited our Atlanta-based clients to tag along. We have memberships at the same gym, so it makes perfect sense.
Exercise might not seem like a great way to wind down, but try it before you knock it. There are plenty of ways to get exercise outside of a gym, if that’s your complaint. Go for a walk, take a ride on your bike, go hiking and bring your camera, or try rock climbing. The meditation aspect of yoga is also a great way to clear your mind and regain control.
Exercise has a cure for everything, and the endorphins (feel good hormones) we get from exercising are pretty damn helpful too!
Even before my crazy work shift, I was always picky about where I went, why, and with whom. It’s unlikely that anyone can get me to leave my house to “hang out”; or that anyone will ever get an invitation to come by my place just for that.
To me, that’s a waste of time. If there isn’t a specific reason for us to hang out, I’ll spend the entire time thinking of all the things I could be doing instead. For better or worse, that’s how I’m programmed. But for some people, that’s another great way to relax. To each their own.
In any case, it’s important to get out of the house for more than work, errands and grocery runs. When I do, it’s to go hiking, take a road-trip, suck at rock climbing, and of course, date night.
Despite my love for travel, and my usual sociable nature, there is no company I prefer more than my own. After working 40 hours with people in person, and then another 30 – 50 with people online, I tend to spend a lot of my free time unwinding by myself.
For a while, I tried to do this by staying home. But that never works out. If I’m home alone, I’ll inevitably start working. That’s the downside of a home office.
So these days, I’ve gone back to the old habit I had in Jamaica. Back home, there was many a-time, when I went snorkeling, headed to the gym, went for a run, went to see a movie, or had dinner – all by myself.
A lot of people asked me how I did that. Did I not feel weird sitting alone at a restaurant? That’s confusing to me. I can’t imagine why being alone would make anyone feel that way. I always tell them:
If you can’t spend time alone with you, why should anyone else?
When you’re a workaholic like me, saying no to work can send you into a wild panic: thinking of emails you should be reading, business calls you should be making, and deadlines fast approaching. However, no matter how much you love what you do, it will eat away at your sanity if you don’t take breaks.
How do you unwind after a crazy work-week? Do you try any of the same methods I do? Or is there something that works even better? Share your wisdom in the comments!