Things That Are More Therapeutic Than Therapy XIII: Healthy Work-Life Boundaries
Having started a new, fully remote job in January, one of the things I’ve loved about it so far is my current work-life balance. I think part of that is due to the company in question having a great culture that really encourages its employees to maintain those boundaries between their job and the rest of their lives, but it’s also something I’ve prioritised myself. As a habitual striver, whenever I start in a new job I’m always keen to show that they made the right choice in hiring me; I usually assume that when someone offers me a job they’ve made a horrible mistake, but if I work hard enough and prove that I’m not 100% useless, they might at least let me keep the job, even if out of pity. I crave the validation of my peers and seniors, and I want to feel secure and be told that everything is going well, so in the past I have pushed myself very hard during my probation periods. Combined with working from home, which I’ve already found serves to blur the distinction between labour and rest even further, I was very conscious of not repeating previous mistakes when I started at Zoopla, and I think I’ve been successful in that. I don’t have my work email on my phone at all, I never check Slack out of hours, and I make the best use of the company’s flexible working policies to make sure I work when I feel at my best rather than grinding out hours for the sake of it.
So far at least, all the feedback I’ve had has been positive, despite not breaking my back in the process. I’ve always been desperate to be a 10x engineer, but now I’ve finally stopped believing in them. Sure, I’d still love to be a paragon of programming knowledge within the company, but that doesn’t have to be right now, that can wait 10 years. Having very clear distinctions between work and home has been difficult - I feel like I’ve had to really force myself to shut my laptop down and watch Netflix sometimes - but the impact it’s had on my health and wellbeing has been huge. I’ve yet to dread a Monday, I’m able to switch off and enjoy things rather than have my mind stuck on work, I even look forward to it most days. Of course, it’s still a job, I’m not going to try and pretend that I love it all day every day because that’d be completely disingenuous. If I didn’t need the money, I would quit the job. But given that I do need the money, the job is pretty good, and at the very least I don’t feel like it’s a net negative on my life, and that’s amazing. It frees up so much mental space to worry about self care and self compassion, and crucially makes me feel a lot less stressed than I have done in previous roles.
I know “have a better work-life balance” isn’t exactly a hot take on how to improve one’s mental health, but I think it’s something that’s a lot easier said than done, that I have put a lot of work into and that I will need to continue putting in the work going forward. Now that I’ve put in enough of that work to see improvements though, the results are more than worth it.