What does work-life balance mean when work is your life?
In today’s world, the word “workaholic” has a lot of negative connotations.
When someone says “workaholic,” we tend to picture a person with thick glasses who is cooped up in a tiny cubicle, furiously tapping away at their computer screen all day long.
Back home, their family consistently complains that they never spend enough time with them. Their friends are tired of hearing their excuses for canceling on plans.
That’s what we usually think a typical day in the workaholic’s life looks like.
But after I quit my job in September 2021 to become a self-employed person, I’ve found that being a workaholic has actually significantly improved my life. Not just my finances, but every other area, including my relationships, my self-care regime, and my mental health.
In this post, I want to talk about how being a workaholic has counter-intuitively helped me have a healthy work-life balance, and how you can apply the same to your life.
What I mean when I say ‘workaholic’
First of all, let’s come to how I define a workaholic.
Effectively, in my field of expertise, the more time I spend in front of a computer, the more money I can earn.
And so, whenever I get a chance, even if there is a small 30-minute window, I always open my computer and do some kind of work.
It doesn’t mean I always start writing a new article. I reply to emails, schedule social media posts, repurpose old articles into Tweet threads, or do some research work for my clients.
A lot of the times, this work might not immediately pay me, but it definitely helps me build my resume and my personal brand.
This has, in return, improved my life a lot.
Now you might think that someone who spends every moment of their free time working might have a miserable life.
But that’s actually not true.
More work = more breaks
Since I work in all the spaces that I get in the day, a lot of the time, I’m ahead of my schedule, doing more stuff than I planned. Sometimes, the tasks on my to-do list are already ticked before it’s even noon.
And that makes it very easy for me to take breaks.
Whenever a friend asks me to meet or a family member requests a favor, I rarely have to say no because of work.
This allows me to take long vacations for 10 days or more quite often, almost once every month where I don’t have to do any work.
If I was not so caught up on all the items on my to-do list, I wouldn’t have been so casual about taking such long breaks.
And it’s not just the long breaks that count. A typical workday in my life includes about two hours of self-care (exercise, meditation, elaborate flower baths), walks with my dog, long chats with my partner, and time preparing food (I don’t cook full meals but I enjoy making my smoothies and evening snacks).
Effectively, I work around five hours a day on the busiest days. This is sustainable because of these short bursts of work I cram in whenever I get the chance.
More work = better mood
Aside from that, when a lot of my tasks are done, I get to feel good about myself all day long. This is always a boost to my mental health.
I’m aware of what I’m capable of, and I know I’ll get things done if I plan and execute them properly.
I also have the thought at the back of my head that I deserve much more than what I currently have. This lets me push myself and work harder so I can turn my dreams into reality.
In a way, working equals self-care for me, and that’s something that always lets me enjoy my work, no matter what.
Closing thoughts: is this lifestyle sustainable?
I work around five hours a day and I definitely think this is sustainable in the long run. Ideally, my life would revolve around writing fiction, reading for long hours, and spending time with my partner and dog, while all the systems I’ve put in place over the years continue to earn me money passively.
Of course, I don’t have any means of earning significant passive income now. But I’m only about a year into my journey of exploring my online business, and I know I have a long way ahead of me.
At this stage, I’m not going to make plans on how to scale my business or increase my free time even more. I know I’m capable of great things and I know the Universe has my back.
I’ll keep working, not overthink about the consequences, and take each day as it comes.
After all, we only get one life, and it’s up to us how we make the most of it. This is how I plan to get the best of both worlds — pursuing my interests and carving a name for myself in the world of writing.
Can you relate to the points I made? Do you think this is only possible when you’re self-employed and not when you’re working a 9-to-5 job? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.