Despite the fact that I'm a millennial who relies heavily on technology, too much screen time wears me out. Unless I'm in a meeting, teaching, or working on the rare pen and paper project, I'm normally looking at a computer screen (ahem, two computer screens and sometimes a phone too) from 8-5. And because I'm a millennial, I sometimes get sucked into more screen time after work. While I'm not a huge TV watcher, I do read blogs, check social media, and wind up down a Pinterest wormhole on the reg.
The occasional mindless scrolling isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I've definitely had some evenings spent completely in front of screens. I find them unsatisfying, and they tend to put me in a funk that lasts until the next day or two. Over the past couple of years, I've been really intentional about my work-life balance and tried to be more present at work and at home. I'm far from perfect, but my balance has definitely improved. I think I'm more productive during the workday, and I feel more rejuvenated and connected at home.
Here's what I do in the evenings to make Monday-Friday seem less like a grind.
1. GO FOR A WALK, BONUS POINTS IF THERE'S NO PHONE
Having an active dog pretty much necessitates that I walk outside a couple times a day. We normally go on a long walk right after work, and it is the best way to leave work behind and think about my goals for the evening or simply enjoy the sunshine. I sometimes use this time to call my mom, sister, or a friend, but I like to have at least 15 minutes of walking where I'm completely disconnected. I enjoy taking time to notice and appreciate little things, like sprouting flowers or cooling temperatures. It is hard to take time to "stop and smell the roses," but life is so much sweeter when you do. (Super cheesy, I know.)
2. READ FOR 15 MINUTES
If you're someone who likes TV, I challenge you to try reading a hard copy of anything for a little while each day - book, magazine, newspaper, etc. There's something so enjoyable about reading material with actual pages, and it is a great way to escape any stress.
3. DON'T CHECK WORK EMAIL
I've deleted my work email account from my phone and tablet, and it is one of the best decisions I've ever made. I will occasionally check it on my laptop at home if I am expecting something important, but I've removed the temptation of checking and at least mentally engaging in every work email during the evening. I'm fortunate that I can do this with my job and know that many professionals are expected to respond either because of the nature of their work or their bosses. If you can't completely remove it, try having a dedicated couple of hours where you commit to leaving your phone away.
4. SCHEDULE ONE FUN ACTIVITY WITH A FRIEND
While some weeks are just simply busy, I prefer quiet weeknights where I have time to pour a glass of wine and take my time making dinner. However, there is something so life-giving about time with friends. I like to plan one night a week where I do something with a girlfriend. Whether it is meeting up for a yoga class, taking a walk, or enjoying happy hour, that hour or two of fun sustains me until the weekend. If I don't plan something immediately after work, then I like to do something like a workout class or a walk because nothing is harder for me than getting home and then having to refresh my hair, makeup, and outfit to go out again.
5. HAVE AN INTENTIONAL DINNER, BONUS POINTS IF IT IS AL FRESCO
Confession: I sometimes don't mind if Jay is out of town or having dinner with the guys because it means I don't have to cook or clean up the kitchen. However, on the evenings we have dinner together, which is most of the time, the night feels more complete. We tend to have more meaningful conversations over dinner rather than if we're quickly touching base after work. Dinners are even better outside. We tend to pour a glass of wine and linger after the meal, so it seems more like a bona fide date rather than a weeknight dinner.
6. USE A COOKBOOK OR RECIPE CARDS TO MAKE DINNER
Again, to avoid getting sucked into the black hole of Pinterest, I try to either use recipe cards or actual cookbooks when I'm making dinner. If I see a Pinterest recipe I'd like to make while meal planning on Sunday, I'll either print it or write it on a notecard, so I avoid looking at it online. If it is a new recipe, I either toss it or file it away after I make it, which makes the winning recipes easier to find the next time.
7. TRY A NEW HOBBY
Like I mentioned, I don't like to over-schedule weeknight evenings. However, this year, I picked up playing tennis after not playing regularly since high school. I was so nervous because it had been 10 years since I played a real match and knew I would be rusty. I started with some clinics at the beginning of the summer and joined a league during June, July, and August. It was a once a week commitment, which was perfect. I looked forward to playing and can't wait until the league starts back up next year. It was great to challenge myself in a different way and do something completely out of my routine. This fall and winter, I'm hoping to take painting classes, which is something I have absolutely no background in. If you have suggestions for any classes in Lexington, I'm all ears!
What's your favorite way to re-energize during the week?