Balancing work, a puppy, and fitness

Did you know that 66% of full-time employees say they don’t believe they have a work-life balance? That is TWO THIRDS of full-time working adults! To me, that number is astronomical. But, when I think about it, it isn’t surprising to me at all. Which is really sad when you think about it. I am not shocked by that number whatsoever because I used to be that person. I used to think I had no work-life balance. Then, throw my fitness goals on top of that…I was CONSTANTLY stressed. I felt overworked, I felt tired all the time, and when I finally had a weekend off, I would just work on everything I had to handle around the house, with my blog, and with my boyfriend’s band. I never took a minute to take a breath and do what I wanted to do!

Don’t get me wrong, I love to clean and organize. It is probably one of my favorite stress relievers. But, to have to clean a whole house top to bottom, do laundry, and cook/meal prep all in one weekend is a BIG undertaking. Oh, and did I mention going to the gym and making sure my puppy gets enough exercise? It was overwhelming.

Then I decided that enough is enough. Why can’t I have time to do what I want to do? Why can’t I find time to get everything done? How much time do I waste on my phone or in the car?

What I realized was that my life needed to do a complete 180 to get where I wanted to be. I needed to make work-life balance happen. Notice how I say MAKE, not FIND time. Because time is always there, it doesn’t have to be found. You need to decide for yourself that it is worth planning and making this happen.

So, here are a few things I did to take control of my life:

I started waking up earlier during the week

I know this is not easy, I struggled to wake up early too, I now wake up at 5:00am, which gives me some time to relax in bed and wake up, drink a whole glass of water first thing in the morning, and get started with my day. I find that I am a lot less stressed when I have time to gradually wake up (about 10-15 minutes MAX), rather than when I jump up and rush to get ready. Now, to be fair, I go to bed at around 9:30-10:00pm so I am able to accomplish this. But, I am not a night owl and studies show that your brain is more productive in the morning than in the afternoon/night. So, drink your coffee (I don’t need it) and get your butt up!

Because of this habit, I am ready for work by 6:00am, Toro and myself are fed by 6:30am, and then I have a whole hour to clean the kitchen, walk Toro, dust the bedroom, etc. I choose to do one or two small chores every morning because it gives me back some of my weekend!

I started waking up earlier on the weekend too

II DON’T wake up at 5:00am on the weekend. But, since I don’t stay up late, and I don’t drink much, I am usually awake by 7:00am on the weekend naturally. And instead of forcing my body to sleep because I think I need more, I let myself get up and get started! On the weekend, the first thing I do is get laundry started. The earlier you start, the more time you have to finish, fold, and put away.

I started planning out my week

I don’t try to plan everything down to the second, but knowing what events are going to get in your way of YOU time is very important! Make sure you know when you’re going to have to go to a birthday party, or a work outing. If you want to volunteer this weekend, carve out time to do it and get it on your calendar! This will hold you accountable and help you plan around it. I am currently working on trying to set a “blackout” block on my weekends for writing my novel and writing my blog posts. I’m not there yet, but every time I practice these tips, I get closer! Read about the planner I use here.

I started listing out the things I want to accomplish

This tip sounds kind of “duh,” but you should know what it is you want to do when you make the time for yourself. Set a goal that will make you feel accomplished when you achieve it! If you end up with spare time and you don’t know what to do, you’re going to end up sitting on the couch watching Netflix for those two hours and feeling bad about yourself later because you didn’t take the time to do something that is fulfilling to you. And maybe watching Netflix is the plan! Sometimes it is okay to just carve out time to watch that show you’ve been trying to watch for MONTHS but never had the time. You do you boo.

I started condensing my workouts

Okay, so I’m sure not all of you are gym rats like me, but I take my health and fitness very seriously, as does the Hunky Engineer. Since we both do this, our lives are constantly planned around meals and the gym, so we can get the best workout in that we can. But, this was taking a toll on me, especially after getting Toro. I was waking up so early to go to the gym, so I could be home with him after work and it just was not working out. Instead, I decided to go to the gym after work again (because I added time into my morning for Toro out of his crate) and I just condensed my workout.

What does condense mean? Doing supersets, planning to do cardio at home (if you have a dog, bonus points for an extra walk/jog in the day!), and minimizing rest time. I’m not saying be unsafe and push yourself to the point of exhaustion, but a lot of people don’t realize that the reason they are at the gym for so long is because of the time they spend resting/talking/on their phone. I decided to eliminate most of that to get my gym time down to about an hour and 20 minutes.

I started prioritizing my health

I am not just talking about the gym here, people! I am talking about my sleep, my stress, my diet, etc. I started putting my health first. What does that mean exactly? It means that, if there was a weekend I was beyond exhausted, or a day at work that I just felt beat down, I would let myself rest. It is OKAY to slow down occasionally. It has taken me my WHOLE LIFE to realize that. But, now that I do, I feel like I am much better at balancing my life because I allow myself to let it all fall to the side if I can feel my stress and my exhaustion bogging me down.

I got a job closer to home

I know for a fact, most of you will not be able to do this. But, for my mental health, I decided to leave my current job and pursue a job at another company much closer to home (30+ minutes closer, to be exact). Having a new job closer to home is going to allow me more time with my puppy, more time to do stuff I really want to do, and hopefully shorten my time at the gym even more because fewer people will be in my way if I’m able to get there earlier (4:45pm, to beat the 5:00pm-6:00pm crowd). I won’t be spending as much money on gas either, so I will feel a lot less stressed about money given my shorter commute. I feel like this is going to be a HUGE change that will allow me to pursue even more things in my life!

And that’s it! I hope these tips are able to help you start to get a handle on how to balance your life and take control back and take you from feeling like this:

To feeling like this:

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