This feature was written by Tenelle Ottley-Matthew while on work experience at GoThinkBig…

The term “work-life balance” is often thrown around when we talk about work and careers, particularly by yoga instructors, mindfulness bloggers on Instagram, and our mum. But what exactly does it mean?

Put simply, work-life balance refers to the time you spend working, compared to the time you spend doing other, non-work related stuff. As work is a significant part of our lives, it’s probably not realistic to expect our time to be split completely evenly when it comes to work and non-work related activities (we only get two days in a weekend… you do the maths). However, we can all take steps to avoid overworking ourselves. Burnout is real, and it’s not fun!

In case you didn’t know, National Work Life Week starts today, but it’s not just corporate professionals and parents who should think about their work-life balance. We think it applies to students, full time job seekers and those who are just starting out in their careers as well, so here are our tips for keeping your work-life balance in check…

1. Give yourself a break

You’re not a machine, you know, nor are you Superman or Superwoman. Studying or working 24/7 won’t actually do you, or your productivity, much good, so take time away from your textbooks and unplug from your job regularly. Make time in your schedule to socialise, exercise and do things you enjoy. And please, REMEMBER TO EAT AND SLEEP! Look after yourself and don’t feel bad about prioritising your self-care, you owe it to yourself!

2. Learn to say ‘no’

As young people who invest a lot of time and effort in developing our careers, many of us are constantly grinding and on the lookout for new opportunities. Sometimes though, you can start to feel stressed out and overwhelmed by how much you’ve got on your plate. If you’re in this situation, think carefully before agreeing to take on more tasks and responsibilities. Be honest with yourself, and others. There’s nothing wrong with saying ‘no’ if you can’t do something – that’s way better than stretching yourself too thin and regretting it later.

3. Switch off

You don’t have to be available at all hours. Although technology is amaaaaazing, it has a way of making us feel like we always need to be ‘on’. Decide on a cut-off point each day when you’ll stop sending and answering work-related emails and messages, revising, or applying for jobs. This may be easier said than done, especially for students, but studies show that using smartphones and tablets before bed affects our sleep in a bad way. If the idea of turning off your phone is unthinkable, start by gradually limiting your screen time in the evenings or turn on ‘do not disturb’ mode.

4. Reward yourself

Aced your exams? Smashed one of your work targets? Landed that brilliant job you so badly wanted? You’re awesome! It’s so easy to overlook our accomplishments and move onto that next goal, or thing on the to do list, but if you achieve something great, reward yourself for it. Go shopping, party with your mates or have a meal at a really fancy restaurant. The possibilities are endless!

5. Talk to someone

If you’re overwhelmed by how much you’ve got going on, don’t keep it to yourself. Speak to someone you trust about what’s working for you and what isn’t, whether that’s with family and friends, teachers, colleagues, or your manager. Chances are, people won’t know you’re struggling unless you tell them, so don’t be scared to ask for help!

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