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When I took a poll on my Instagram, this was the second most upvoted topic right after my post on Docteurou Diek Yi: Let’s talk about sex, baby. I have other topics that received a good number of votes, and we’ll get to that but today, we’re going to talk about Balancing work, school, and a home or Work-Life-Balance.

There’s no doubt that work-life-balance (WLB) is a hot topic and will continue to remain one in the midst of a global pandemic. As many of us are settling into a new normal of returning to the office, permanently working from home, or adopting a hybrid situation. No matter what your situation looks like, I think I can blindly wager that one of the following facts in a recent 2022 study resonates with you:

  1. US Service Professionals spend over 50 Hours working per week
  2. Many Americans work on weekends
  3. 48% of Americans believe that they are workaholics
  4. 72% of people say that WLB is something they consider when job searching
  5. 77% of Americans who work full-time have experienced burnout (exhaustion, energy depletion, negativity, distance from the job, reduced work productivity)
  6. $190B has been spent to address the physical and psychological effects of burnout

Reading these stats, my back hurt more and more with each statement. Just sitting at a desk all day is excruciating and no amount of stretching seems to make it better! And a lot of people, whether they work a desk job or otherwise, grapple with the dilemma that is balancing your professional and personal lives. It’s not easy.

For me, a regular day looks something like this: wake up, start work, go through the motions of checking up on emails, attending calls, grudgingly looking over my to-do list, and stretching in between calls to release the tension from my shoulders. At some point during the day, I might sneak a nap in (a strategic move over getting food) and then get back to work. I’ll remember that I didn’t take out the chicken from the freezer to defrost it for dinner, so I’ll run and do that or even marinate said chicken during a call where I’m not a primary “talker.” At some point, work ends miraculously, and I then shift my focus to making dinner before finally settling in to do some homework. It’s just boom, boom, boom all day long and just trying to get everything done. Fridays can’t come fast enough, and Mondays are just meh.

Your schedule might look similar or completely different – while being equally or even more strenuous. I see enough memes about work exhaustion on social media to know that this isn’t a one-off or siloed experience reserved for just some people and not others. So, what do we do? How do we achieve a more balanced life?

I recently (and ironically) gave a presentation at work about WLB. I rambled for an hour about everything I just talked about above and opened the floor for others to share their experiences, and we brainstormed ways to combat this challenge. It’s not perfect or exhaustive but it is a step in the right direction. Let me know what you think – or provide your feedback on things that have helped you achieve a better WLB.

So, now that the “politically correct” part of the post is addressed, here’s another viewpoint – the Senegalese American one that ties into this blog’s premise a little better.

WLB is hard! When you live in a household where women do a majority of the housework, it’s hard to feel like WLB is attainable… if you’re a woman. This doesn’t mean that men don’t struggle with WLB but in a Senegalese household, it can very much be skewed. Growing up in a Senegalese household, the women were unequivocally charged with more of the housework and this can add another layer of complexity when we consider more women are going into the workforce. The responsibilities of the home can shift a bit but not that much when we’re raised to still hold it down no matter what. As someone who is working a full-time job, going to school, and managing a home, I will say that there is truth to this statement. Maybe this is just my experience, but something tells me that the 19 people who upvoted this topic (of which, 15 were women) would tend to agree or at least confront some of the same. So, with that in mind, here’s a slightly different graphic of suggestions on achieving WLB with a Senegalese undertone (this is on top of the suggestions above).

In short, there’s no silver bullet for WLB and it will look different for every one of us. For some, it is more about time management to balance all of the commitments we have while it may be about working a job we love to avoid burnout for others. Whatever “it” is for you, take stock of that and take direct and intentional steps to get yourself to a better, more balanced place.

I’ve love to hear what you think of WLB and how it’s applied to your life. Feel free to share.

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