SideBar,  Work Life Balance

Sidebar: So this is Adulting…

Wow, January was ridiculously long, was it not? I mean was it just last month we feared entering a serious war? What is this life even? One thing I’ve done to keep myself semi-sane is to keep focused just on local news. I know it’s a little bit like head in the sand mentality, which isn’t great, but I just can’t consume all this news all the time. Plus, local news is really pertinent to my job so it helps two-fold…

Speaking of work, I made it to the six month mark! I can say that I finally, truly feel steady about what I’m doing and have found a rhythm and pace that have made things much easier. And that is what this side bar is about—finding a little bit of mental balance/harmony in a time consuming job. I’ve described my previous job as a bubble (a lovely, peaceful bubble) because I had such an amazing work life balance (thanks to my Union! #solidarity). As I’ve mentioned time and again, this new gig is a whirlwind! The hours are super long, packed, and hectic. It took a while for me to get used to the this new tempo (and really if I were younger or new to the profession perhaps it wouldn’t have been such a shock). But not having time to eat lunch, figuring out how to keep my home clean/clutter free with limited hours, and trying to not be sleepy all the time was a challenge the first few months, but like I said, I feel like I’ve found a groove and want to share what has helped me manage my time/sanity/well-being:

One. Sleep. As a night owl, it is still difficult for me to get to bed at a reasonable hour. But I had to be honest with myself that when I went to bed at a decent hour (for me that’s by 11, at the latest because I could easily stay awake until 1 if I could)-it made such a difference in my mornings. I am slowly trying to get myself up even earlier, but not forcing the issue. I just feel better about the morning when I can wake up and not feel rushed to get myself and everything else ready in 20 minutes, you know? Sleeping better also keeps me sharp, which is obvi a positive.

Two. Night Routine. Knowing that I’m sleeping less than I used to and that I’m a bit more stressed than before, I have made my nighttime skincare routine like an experience I can’t skip. I will admit this is 100% because I want to keep a youthful look and have been especially careful with my eyes (I know a lot of people lean into aging or aren’t as vain as me, but that ain’t me boooo). Instead, taking time each night to go through the (many) motions of my skin care is relaxing. It makes my skin feel good too and makes getting ready for bed a relaxing experience. Before I used to do it sporadically, but being consistent has shifted my mindset and I have found it soothing.

Three. Clean Kitchen. Omg, this is probably veering me further into Senora Territory, but one of the last things I do (before the above step) is clean my kitchen. ITrust, it feels so good to go to sleep/wake up with a clean counter/sink/clean dishes. Plus coming home to a clean kitchen space makes it less likely that I’ll come up with excuses to not cook dinner. Making this a daily mandatory event (no dishes in the sink, clean, decluttered counter, etc) has just made me feel less overwhelmed about my crazy work hours, you know? I don’t rush to work every day freaking out that “I don’t even have time to clean” because basically the most used spot of the apartment is clean. Really recommend this.

Four. Made Bed. I know, this is sacrilege being raised in a Mexican household, where I did make my bed everyday. But eventually, I didn’t see the need. I mean I literally get into bed the moment I’m home to decompress so who cares if it’s made? But again, with my time and schedule being so stretched thin, making the bed has a calming effect on me. My room looks put together and not chaotic, which is how things feel sometimes, you know? If you’re not making your bed I also encourage this added step to your morning routine to see if it helps bring a little calm to your mindset.

Five. Lunch. Finally I love grabbing lunch, especially if it’s with a friend. But there are times in my schedule where I literally have fifteen minutes to eat between meetings. Sometimes I have things blocked from 11-2 where eating won’t be possible (it’s torture!), so through trial and error, I’ve realized the importance of planning ahead on busy days and eating a substantial breakfast and bringing a lunch. Having the food on hand lets me eat around my schedule, keeps me away from the vending machine, and staves off the hangry headaches I get if I don’t eat during the day. I recognize that for many of us “working through lunch” is an embedded code that implies we’re working really hard. Like, sure, but really that is capitalistic dogma. Our bodies and minds need nutrients throughout the day! We shouldn’t exist on coffee or granola bars–your jobs shouldn’t be demanding that. Take the time to plan ahead and see the difference having a hearty lunch makes.

So those are the small shifts I’ve made these past six months that have really helped me manage the stress and long schedule that has now become my new normal. I really recommend that those who are experiencing hectic hours and/or are new to lawyer hours that you try to look for things that calm you at home, while preparing you for a better work day and I know it’ll make a difference in your day to day.