5 after-work actions that will improve your life and career
We’ve all been there – going through the typical post-work routine. Sometimes it’s attending an after-work event that feels more like a formality than an effective use of time. For those nights when nothing is happening, we all too often find ourselves falling asleep on the sofa to the sound of episode re-runs in the background.
With long work days, it’s difficult for young professionals to motivate themselves to use the hours outside of work productively. After-work activities don’t have to be such a drag, and you don’t have to think up excuses to avoid them completely. By setting aside time a few days a week, you’ll realize what a joy it is to find things that are both fun and meaningful. In turn, your work week will move along productively, and your career will benefit by contributing to a happier you.
1. Find a cool project, and then volunteer for it.
While the daily grind is helpful for our livelihood and success, sometimes we miss the enjoyment of helping out, well, just because. Volunteering for a project can be very self-fulfilling and also has the potential to create positive exposure for your company. At the same time, you will be appreciated as a capable, active leader. Reach out to that art or film festival and see how you can help. Is there a non-profit that needs a hand with their annual event? See what’s happening, find out what your strengths are and be a part of something bigger.
2. Mise en place…
…Or, “everything in its place.” Being a young professional can be daunting, especially when others always seem to have their stuff more together. You know what’s been lacking: your cat needs litter, half of your shoes are in your car, you’re debating shopping for more clothes instead of doing laundry. It’s helpful to give yourself an evening to take care of most, if not all, of the little things. Schedule your bills, pick your outfits out or prep your lunches for the week. You’ll eliminate the stress of not having those things in place, and you’ll be glad you did. Again, mise en place.
3. Do something different.
As if your life isn’t crazy enough, right? Still – having an after-work activity can give you a chance to explore your creativity and open you to something completely new. Sign up for that cirque class or the cheese and wine club you’ve been drooling over. Launch an online store filled with handmade crafts. By trying something you wouldn’t normally do, you’ll gain two things: First, you’ll have a fresh perspective and an open mind both in and out of the office. Second, you’ll connect with people who you might otherwise have nothing in common with.
4. Make time for you.
Are you saving your own relaxation for the weekend? Setting aside a couple of hours after work can rejuvenate and energize you, and help you survive the week. Go for a scenic walk, or catch up on that self-help audio book you’ve been listening to. Get a quick pick-me-up by calling family and friends. Book that awesome vacation you’ve been working so hard toward. Give your body and mind the attention they need. You deserve it.
5. Start a social tradition.
Once a week, I make a trip to my favorite kava lounge and catch up with locals. The workers know me by name and pour up my regular brew of nakamal. It just feels good to be a regular. The point is that a little repetition can be nice. Maybe it’s getting a gang of friends to play trivia once a week at a nearby bar, or visiting the local market for your favorite gourmet snack. A social tradition is the perfect way to break up your week and catch up with friends. It’s the simplest means to having a little pre-weekend fun.
The purpose isn’t to find time, but to make time. Your physical and mental well-being will improve your career, life and overall happiness. For all of these, action is the highest motivator. With a little bit of effort, you can make time. You’ve got this.
How do you spend those hours between work and sleep?
Sarah Arrazola is a public relations professional in Tampa, Fla. Her passions focus on Latin American issues, fine art and the digital age. In her spare time she enjoys aerial silks and traveling. As a young professional with experience in the PR industry, she's excited to share her thoughts with you on Your Coffee Break. Follow her on Twitter @sarah_arrazolaView all Sarah Arrazola posts.