Life After 5: Stretching the 37% of Your Week Actually Devoted to You

Alesia Howard
Alesia Howard

Since recently finishing graduate school and accepting a full-time position, I’ve learned to become more intentional in how I manage my life outside of work.   

I never thought I’d say this but, let’s do some math.  

There are 168 hours in a week. If you work 40-50 hours a week and get eight hours of sleep each night (or seven), you only have about 37 percent of your week dedicated to other activities, such as living your life. 

With considerably less than half of the week devoted to your personal interests, hobbies or just family and friends, it can be difficult fitting those significant factors into your life. 

Here are four tips to help stretch your 37 percent: 

1.      Eat Socially

Eat out or stay in and cook, but invite others to join you.  An easy way to socialize and not feel as though you are using up a substantial amount of time is to invite people to lunch and/or dinner. You have to eat, right? 

2.     Say No (sometimes)

As much as you like to believe that you are a super hero, sadly you are not.  You may have to decline to attend some of the after-work events. This can be particularly difficult when you are new to the job or feel as though you must be at every single event.  Just remember: “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” Worn-out employee 

3.     Hoard Paid Leave

If you have the benefit of accumulating paid leave over time whether it is vacation or personal days, use them. Take off one Friday for an extended weekend vacation or staycation.

 Even if you don’t have children (I don’t), take a lesson from the MasterCard #OneMoreDay commercial. According to the new ad, over 400 million vacation days went unused last year. Stop saving your time off planning for the vacation that you will never have the time to take.  Relax a little. 

4.     Step Away From the Device

Whether it’s a phone, laptop or tablet, most of us are guilty of allowing work to digitally infiltrate our off-duty hours. After reading Bloomberg’s Work-Life Balance and the New Night Shift, I realize how common and detrimental it is to work from home, after work.   

Go home, put down the phone, hide the laptop (tablet) and for once, do what you want to do, not what you have to do.

Alesia Howard is a recent graduate of DePaul’s PR and Advertising program. She now works as a communications manager for Columbus, Ohio Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

3 thoughts on “Life After 5: Stretching the 37% of Your Week Actually Devoted to You

  1. Thank you so much, Alesia! Work-life balance has been an ongoing struggle for me in the beginning stages of my career, and your article was the first I have read that offered real solutions. Cheers to maximizing that 37%.

  2. Hey Callie,

    As also a recent college grad, I’ve started feeling like there’s barely any time outside of work. Two things that have helped me:

    1. Mandatory 2 hour computer break right after work
    So many times I would find myself leaving work only to hop right back on the computer once I got home. Now, I force myself to stay away from my computer for at least 2 hours when I get home.

    2. Work smarter
    I’ve realized if I give myself 5 hours to do something, it’ll take me 5 hours. If I say I’ll do it in 2 hours, it takes me 2. I give myself less time to do things, and I actually get done with work faster.

    Thanks for the cool article!

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