I am excited to introduce to you our August guest blogger Salma Ibrahim! Salma currently works as a Senior Associate Technical Consultant for the business analytics software company SAS in Cary, NC. Her job responsibilities include working with clients to extract, transform, and load data so that SAS can perform analytics and find product solutions that fit customer’s business needs. Before starting with SAS she completed the Advanced Analytics curriculum at NC State University, receiving her M.S. in Analytics in 2014. A member of the pack through and through, she also received her B.S. in Mathematics and B.A. in Chemistry from the University in 2013. In her spare time she enjoys reading and playing board games with friends – although recently she has spent the majority of her free time planning her wedding.
Work-Life Balance in the Corporate World
When I started my first full-time job a little over a year ago, nothing hit me quite as hard as the realization that 8 consecutive hours of my day were now spoken for. I suppose college had spoiled me with the ability to make my own schedule and have chunks of free time during the day. Suddenly the importance of that phrase that was mentioned about 100 times in new employee orientation was more apparent. Work-life balance. So, how do you maintain it in the corporate world?
Personal vs. Professional Priorities
It’s easy to lose sight of your non-professional goals and priorities when so much of your day is dedicated to your professional ones. Your professional commitment is scheduled and is most likely your primary source of income. It can’t be brushed to the side or rescheduled for when you have more time like your personal ones can. Treating your personal priorities the same way is crucial to maintaining their significance in your life. Schedule the things that are important to you- whether it be family-time, a hobby, or just a personal goal. Having a concrete time set aside for something makes it significantly more likely to happen than deciding that you’ll get to it when you get to it. Odds are you lead a fairly busy life and “when you get to it” may never happen. Balancing is a state of equilibrium — putting off the personal while prioritizing the professional leaves you with little work-life balance.
Taking Control of Your Schedule
Although a 9-5 schedule is fairly rigid, there are still some ways you can customize it to fit your life. If you’re a morning person, alter your sleep schedule so that your day starts with the sun rather than with work. This can give you 3 additional daylight hours to utilize that aren’t consumed by your job. If you can’t focus for 8 consecutive hours, take advantage of your lunch break to completely remove yourself from your work environment. Leave the office and go run an errand, take a fitness class, or just have lunch somewhere else. This change in environment can help reset your focus so that you come back to work refreshed and more productive. Finally, reconsider how you’re spending your weekends. Are your weekends being spent in a way that’s beneficial to your personal well-being or are they being wasted away after a long week of work? How you organize the time you have power over can have a huge impact on your work-life balance.
It’s common to take paid time off one or more weeks at a time so that you’re able to go on a trip and get the most out of it. However, it can be very beneficial to your work-life balance to tack a day or two onto a weekend every now and then. The necessity for vacation days is to give you a much-needed break from work. Taking a break from work once or twice a year isn’t going to benefit you during the other 10 months of the year during which you’re not getting much time off. This doesn’t have to be a trade-off between your annual family trip and a day or two of relaxation. Taking a day or two off of your longer vacations will likely still give you a decent length of time for a trip, and will also allow for a few more breaks throughout the year.
The key to maintaining work-life balance is to be thoughtful and organized with the time that you have to work with. It’s easy and understandable to come home from a long day of work and just want to relax, but it’s important to keep in mind that you aren’t living just to work and that you’ll be happier and more successful in the long run if you use your time wisely.
Have a question for Salma? Ask in a comment below!