Approximately one week after graduating college, I did what countless adults warned me not to do: I got a puppy. Though my sweet French bulldog puppy Ada stole my heart with seconds, I quickly realized what all my elders had been talking about. It was harder than I thought to balance caring for a new puppy and impressing at my new job. For a while, I thought to myself, well this was a genius idea. But, somewhere along the way, I realized that compromising for my dog while fulfilling responsibilities had delivered the perfect work/life balance. These little tips that Ada taught me can help you find the right balance in your life — no new puppy required.
1. Take a lunch break
When you’ve got your head down working on a project, it can be hard to tear yourself away long enough to get out for lunch, especially when there’s a deadline looming over your head. But, for the first few months I had Ada, my lunch break was dedicated to running home and letting her out. I didn’t have the option to stay and work because my pup’s bladder was calling. But, I quickly realized how refreshing that short break was. According to Fast Company, even just 15 or 20 minutes away from the desk can improve concentration and up energy levels. So, whether you’ve got a puppy waiting on you or not, don’t neglect your lunch break.
2. Get outside
After 9 hours of working, my couch could be quite a temptress. But, in order to save my carpet from numerous puppy accidents, I had to get outside. Turns out that the great outdoors made me feel better than the couch ever did. From a boost in Vitamin D to increased creativity, science has found numerous benefits to getting outside. Even just a little time out and away from your desk can keep you excited for work and help you save those personal days for vacation instead of illness.
3. Put the work away
Right out of college, it’s easy to get wrapped up in work. You’re trying to climb your way up the ladder, and why not? You probably don’t have kids and you’re probably not married, but even if you are, your significant other is most likely doing the same thing at his job. But, there’s a fine line between working hard and overworking, and toeing that line can get dangerous. After all, people who work more than 10 hours a day have a 45 percent higher chance of having a heart attack. That’s where Ada came in. Sure, I could still stay super late to get ahead or do some extra work from my couch, but having her in the back of my mind always forced me to ask myself do I really need to do this now? If the answer was no, I put it away and enjoyed some R&R.
4. Prioritize your time
It’s easy for simple distractions to turn into quite the black hole. I understand better than anyone that what you meant to be a quick glance at Facebook can turn into 20 minutes of looking through your high-school friend’s wedding photos. Though we can all agree this doesn’t count as work, when it takes up chunks of your day here and there, you’re suddenly working late trying to figure out where the time went. But, when I knew my dog had been home all day waiting for me, it was a great reminder to minimize the mindless tasks that kept me from doing what needed to be done and finish my work on time.
5. A little goes a long way
I don’t always have the time to walk my dog for the hour she’d love. Oftentimes, all I’ve got is 10 or 15 minutes to throw her ball or take her down the street. But that doesn’t matter to her – that little bit of time is better than nothing. Turns out the same went for me. Just taking the time to soak in the tub or walk around the block had rejuvenating benefits without requiring a big chunk of my day. So, don’t forget to take even just a little time for yourself.
Maybe you have a dog, maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re convinced that it’s time to get one, and maybe you’ve read this and decided a goldfish is more your speed. Regardless, keep these puppy life lessons in your pocket for the days that work gets the best of you. Whether you live to work or work to live, always be sure to take care of yourself first.
By Nicole Gartside, Smartte Contrtibutor