Living to Work vs. Working to Live – Where Do You Stand?

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How much time do you spend at work? Is your job only a way to earn your living, or is it a goal in itself, taking up most of your time and energy? The answer to this question is more important than you would think, as your work influences your life in several ways.

5 Ways in Which Your Work Influences Your Life

  1.  Through your income, your work determines what you can afford and what lifestyle you can lead.
  2. Your work schedule influences how much time you have left for your hobbies and personal life.
  3. Your job influences your satisfaction level and your self-esteem.
  4. Work stress, if present, negatively impacts your health.
  5. Depending on its specific, your career can help you turn dreams into reality or, on the contrary, hold you back.

As you can see, your work’s influence on your personal life can be negative or positive. If you care about your family and hobbies, your health, your self-esteem, and your happiness, you need a job that is just a means to an end. You need to work to live.

Your job should provide the income and stability you need through an activity you can enjoy, without subjecting you to unnecessary stress or forcing you to give up your dreams and passion. If you already have such a job, congratulations!

If you do not, you should consider finding one. Such a job would allow you to work to live, and this should be your goal.

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If your work takes most of your time and subjects you to huge levels of stress if you take it home with you and you can’t take it off your mind even after you’ve left your workplace, it means you live to work, and you should do something about it.

Don’t panic, though, as you are not the only one. Americans work 47 hours on average every week. Only 13% of them are satisfied with their job. You can stand out from the crowd, though, by taking measures to make things better.

What can you do? The first and most important step is to take action back and assess your situation.

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If you don’t like your job, you’re underpaid, or you have no way to avoid working overtime, perhaps it is time to find a new job. If you think your current job is worth holding on to, it is time to make it better, to take measures to prevent it from interfering with your personal life.

How to Stop Living to Work and Start Working to Live Without Changing Jobs

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Here are the steps you should follow to turn your job from a goal in itself to a means to an end:

1. Improve Your Productivity

As mentioned above, your work takes away personal time. However, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid, so quitting is not an option. The key is to work more productively, to do the same work in less time. One way to do that is to eliminate distractions. This way, you can focus on the tasks at hand and complete them sooner.

2. Manage The Time You Spend at Work Better

Perhaps you think you can safely switch between activities and perform several tasks at the same time, but you are wrong. You can do everything faster and better if you plan and prioritize. Identify the most important things and start with them. Only move on to the next task when you have completed the one preceding it.

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Plan your breaks thoroughly and stick to them. Contrary to what you may think, skipping breaks won’t get you more time. It will only make the transition more difficult. You need those few minutes, so enjoy them. Just make sure you focus on your work the rest of the time.

3. Avoid Working Overtime

Those couple of hours you spend at work when you should be at home or having fun with your loved ones are precious, so stop wasting them. Instead, take measures to ensure you will leave work early. One idea could be to take up carpooling with a work colleague who never stays over time. You’ll be forced to adjust to their schedule.

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It is essential to learn to delegate to avoid postponing tasks for too long or working overtime to complete them. If your boss doesn’t care about your personal life and expects you to work overtime, perhaps it is time to talk to them and make it clear that your personal life is just as important as your job.

4. Don’t Take Your Work Home With You

If you didn’t finish the project you were working on, it doesn’t mean you should continue to work on it at home. Sure, you would be at home instead of staying until late at night at your workplace. However, you would still be distracted and unavailable to talk, have fun, or hang around with your loved ones.

When your workday is over, you have to walk out of your workplace, leaving all worries and responsibilities behind. You need a break, time for yourself and your loved ones. Your employer needs to understand you have a life and let you live it.

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If it’s your fault that you can’t complete your assignments in the allocated time, perhaps you’re not cut out for the job, and you should look for other opportunities. If your boss asks too much of you, it is time you took a stand. If you’re good at what you do, they will back down to keep you. If they don’t, you’ll probably be better off working somewhere else.

5. Invest Some of Your Earnings in Your Hobbies and Your Pleasures

Yes, the primary purpose of your job is to bring you money to pay your bills and cover your monthly expenses.

However, the receipts won’t make you happy. Investing in your hobbies or hanging out with your loved ones will.

Therefore, when planning your budget for the month, make sure you allocate a small amount to “pleasures of the heart.” This way, you will find it easier to remember what you work for, and the line between living to work and working to live will become more prominent, more challenging to cross.

Do You Live to Work, or Do You Work to Live?

Is work the most important thing in your life? It shouldn’t be, and it should never come before your hobbies, your loved ones, and your personal life in general. If you live to work, the advice above should come in handy. Don’t hesitate to share this post with anyone who might be in your shoes and find them useful.

If you work to live, it means you already know your priorities, and you have found a way to balance your professional and personal life.

Do share your thoughts in the comments below to compare ideas and help others find their balance and prevent your work from taking over life!

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Mihaela is a sociologist, an English – Romanian translator, the proud mother of two joyful girls and the happy wife of her soul mate. She turned writing into a career in 2010 and has never looked back. She spends her leisure time by cooking healthy foods, reading princess stories, watching movies, playing games in the park, or walking along the Danube.