Simply stated, the traditional work week is flawed. It quickly leads to decreased productivity and is a major contributor to burnout, weight gain, and disease. You have the power to prevent the unwanted effects of the traditional work week. With three easy steps, you can be on your way to living the life you desire and allow your happiness to come out every day rather than being saved for the weekends!
The average work schedule involves working Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. Post-work activities usually consist of relaxing, cooking dinner, and maybe a workout. Saturdays are for catching up on errands, going to family events, and going out. The week is rounded out with Sundays that are spent recovering and preparing for the next week. This becomes a pretty vicious cycle that leaves you yearning for the weekends, specifically Saturday. By the time Sunday hits, many people are overwhelmed with a sense of anxiety about the upcoming week.
As an individual looking to take complete control of your personal health, there are 3 steps to make a shift in your weekly schedule:
- Analyze your schedule
- Ask for a schedule change or consider a job change
- Redistribute your work and personal life balance
1. Analyze Your Schedule
The first step in shifting your weekly schedule is to analyze your schedule. This is not a time to sugar-coat your lifestyle or justify your choices. It is time to look at your life from the perspective of an outsider and truly expose how your choices are impacting your life. Take a half-hour to yourself and write down what your typical work week looks like. Some questions to consider are:
- When does the majority of your work take place?
- When does the majority of your personal care take place (exercise, meditation, yoga, recovery, time with family/friends, etc.)?
- How many hours do you spend working?
- How many of those hours do you have energy and feel great?
- How many hours do you spend on personal care?
- How many of those hours do you have energy and feel great?
- How many hours/days are you simply going through the motions?
- How many hours/days are you being present, creating, and moving towards your goals?
By taking a good hard look at the answers to these questions, you can start to get an Eagle’s Eye view of what your daily life looks life. Sometimes we get so engulfed in our daily lives that we don’t pay attention to what we are actually doing. We just mosey along, punch in, punch out, rinse and repeat.
Eckhart Tolle said that “Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” By answering these questions truly and honestly, you can bring awareness to what your daily life looks like and what direction you are moving in. Once you know where you are, you can begin to map out where you want to go.
If you know where you want to go, and you can make your current job work with your schedule, move directly to Step 3. However, if you know where you want to go, and your current situation does not allow for you to get there, it is time to move on to Step 2…
2. Ask for a Schedule Change or Consider a Job Change
Working remote or having flexible scheduling can have life changing benefits. Our recent article Killing the 9-5 to Save Your Health takes a deep dive on the matter and is certainly worth the read. If, after you analyze your schedule, you realize that you are unhappy with the work and personal life balance, it may be in your best interest to talk to your boss.
Not all jobs allow for remote work or flexible scheduling, but there are a great number of jobs that do. With a little creativity and open-mindedness, you may be able to completely transform your work schedule. When this is justified with increased productivity that benefits your employer, it can actually be a fairly easy sell. Resources, such as The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris detail all the necessary steps you can take to make this a reality.
If your employer is reluctant to work with you on a shift in schedule, it might be worth considering a job change. Take your experience and expertise and make yourself marketable. We live in a world of abundance and there are a vast array of jobs available to you if you are willing to put in the time and work to look for them. A little time and sacrifice now can lead to you getting the life that you desire and being a much happier and content person.
Obviously, we do not recommend jumping ship without a signed offer in place (unless you have to means to do so). As with anything else, do a little at a time and build yourself up until you find the right opportunity. You can get help from quick, easy reads like Robbie Abed’s Fire Me, I Beg You or How to Build Relationships and Get Job Offers Using LinkedIn. Resources like this will help you use modern strategies to get a job that steer away from the traditional approaches like fluffed-up resume jargon and online applications. Instead, you build relationships with those who have the power to make decisions and bypass the traditional screening process.
Whether you stay at your current job, adjust your schedule, or move onto a new job, it is time to move onto Step 3…
3. Redistribute Your Work and Personal Life Balance
No matter how you got here, the most important question is…
how can you redistribute your hours so that you have energy for everything you do and are giving your best no matter what?
This is not an easy question to answer and may involve breaking free from the mold of the traditional working American. We are led to believe that Monday through Friday should be wake up, work, go to the gym, eat, sleep, and repeat . Then, when the weekend hits, we let loose and enjoy life. As we now know, that it an inefficient use of time and quickly leads to burnout.
Instead of waiting for the weekends for fun, call up your friends on a Tuesday. You don’t have to go to the club until 2:00 a.m. and be hungover at work the next day. If you are serious about your personal health, you probably aren’t doing that on the weekends either. Have your friends over for a healthy dinner, bring your pups to the dog park, or do whatever it is that you find fun! This will give your body and mind the opportunity to fully decompress from the day leading to a much happier and productive work day the next day.
Save the trips to the gym for days that you are feeling energized after work or for the weekends. Not only will this allow you to have better recovery, you will get better workouts in because you will be exercising at a time that you have actual energy, not fighting through a workout just because you think you should. This will lead to better overall progress of your health and fitness goals!
As with anything, adjusting your work and personal life balance will take some tweaking, adjusting, and experimentation in order to find the sweet spot. Take your time and be patient with the process. You may have to get creative, especially if you have a job that eats the bulk of your days and week like most 9 to 5 jobs do.
If you have already made the decision to drastically improve your personal health, revisiting your weekly schedule should be a no-brainer. Take advantage of the fact that you want to perform at your best and create a weekly schedule that is balanced and productive. There is nothing wrong with getting work done on a Saturday night, especially if it is work that improves you as a person and is leading to greater opportunities. You might be “sacrificing” going to a bar or out to dinner, but when you have created a life for yourself that you are truly interested in it will certainly be worth it.
Tying It All Together
The more the human race is studied, the more we realize that we benefit from times of maximum effort followed by immense rest and recovery. This is applied directly to our health in the form of high intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT has been found to be more effective than distance training. In fact, distance training is being tied to an increase in stress and cortisol release! This same general concept can be applied to our work/personal life balance. We would benefit much more from short periods of maximum effort, focused work followed by substantial time to rest and recover.
The current system does not allow for the necessary component of adequate recovery. By the time Joe America commutes home from work, he is left with 4 or 5 hours before he needs to go to sleep and start all over again. This is hardly enough time for personal care and recovery and, as a result, Joe is not able to perform at his best the next day at work. This compounds over time and ends with Joe being burnt out, making poor health decisions, and in a downward spiral towards obesity, disease, life dissatisfaction, and an early death.
You have already taken charge of your life by deciding to pursue changes to your personal health. Give yourself the greatest opportunity for success by placing your personal health in front of your work schedule. Simple observations and changes can transform you daily life and help you reach all your life goals!
How have you adjusted your schedule for greater success? We want to know! Leave a comment below!