Can We Really Balance Work and Life Well?

Recently I read some articles shared by friends on Wechat, and they are all about how to smartly strike a balance between work and life, especially when you are  buried by everyday duties and have limited spare time. It resonates me deeply because I do need solutions for this since I found myself gradually losing my attitude and capability for such balance. 

Two months has passed since I relocated to Shanghai from New York and started working in China as a PR practitioner. I love my job because this is the career path I’m determined to develop, and the company I’m working for now can provide me great platform and resources to make myself more capable and experienced with growing expertise in brand marketing for consumer healthcare practice. This is one of fastest growing industries in China and also quite new for me, so I need to spend much more time than others in the team to make myself more knowledgeable and insightful with this industry to better serve the clients. It’s challengeable, but also interesting. 

I learned a lot in the past two months, not only professional skills in various aspects, but also unique work etiquette and corporate culture, which is quite different from what I’ve obtained in the US. I feel fulfilled, but in the meantime, I’m also experiencing the growing imbalance between work and life, which makes me exhausted and even depressed sometimes. Last month, I almost worked overtime every weekday with the team to organize an important off-line event, and meanwhile preparing a proposal for a new business bidding. We were truly under heavy pressure, and have no spare time after work the whole month. In order to save time for work, I declined several friends’ catch-up invitations, cut off my social activities on weekends, and also shortened my time for sleeping. It was a tough month for each member in the team, and we all felt anxious, stressful, and tired. 

The good side was that we went through the super busy month together, and finished all required work with high quality. Even so, we still feel sorry and guilty for ourselves, because we didn’t take good care of ourselves during that period. In order to accomplish the heavy workload, we sacrificed our spare time which could be used for personal development, social networking, and family gathering. For many times, we were wondering if it is worthwhile, because we were not able to balance work and life anymore, and we are so eager to get this back. 

We know the ideal way to live is to balance work and life well. However, such balance is not that easy to maintain when we are forced to devote more time and energy to work. I always think work is just a part of life, and want to work smart and live well, instead of being a poor workaholic. I’ve discussed this with team members and we’ve reached agreement to better manage our time this month to live a more balanced life. I believe if we can keep this attitude in mind and are willing to make some efforts proactively, then we will be able to manage the delicate balance between work and life, no matter how busy we are.

Lee Zhang, Shanghai

Lee Zhang

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