• Yogita Deogan

Staying off the Hamster Wheel

At times life has felt to be moving at top speed. A busy calendar during the working week and at the weekend. Rushing from home to work, work to school, school to after-school clubs and so forth. It was full-on, juggling work, house, kids, partner, friends, family and still trying to make time for myself and stay healthy. Then the pandemic hit and many of us were just forced to stop. The speed of life slowed its pace, and we had all this extra time to bake banana bread, watch Netflix and appreciate our local areas by going for long walks. I began to appreciate my empty calendar, knowing I didn’t need to rush around seeing people and doing things.

Now the pace is picking up again, it feels like we are stepping back onto that hamster wheel of life. The morning commute is busy and manic like the old days and now that I’ve started to work freelance, the lines between home and work are blurred and balancing has been even more of a struggle. But it doesn’t have to be like before and I for one don’t want to be sucked back in to go at top speed.

We can and should take steps to live life at a speed that suits us best. By setting boundaries and utilising our support network more effectively, we have an opportunity now to organise our lives around our needs rather than getting back on the hamster wheel. Obviously, this is easier said than done so here are a few tips that we can take to get started:

Set the tone for your day: this can be anything from starting work at 5 am (if that’s your thing), doing morning yoga or enjoying a cup of tea in peace. Customising your morning routine to suit your own mental wellness puts you in control of your day.

Set aside time for planning: listing out your tasks helps you get more done in a limited time. It also helps you to reflect on what you need/want to do. Cutting down or taking out things that no longer suit your lifestyle is important and something that should be reviewed regularly.

Set healthy boundaries at home as well as work: It’s important to communicate the space you need both to your colleagues and at home. Share your availability and working hours clearly, say no to tasks that burden you unnecessarily and stand up for yourself. This doesn’t just apply to women, but all genders as we encourage all to share the load both at home and work.

Ask for help: Ask, delegate, collaborate. And I repeat, if you can, share the load. In a world where there is pressure to be perfect or be able to do it all, there is real value in being able to admit you are just human.

Be the change you want to see: Set clear expectations in a way in a way that involves the people around you, which means don’t take on a task just because you can or because it’s expected of you e.g., it’s not only a mother’s job to pack the lunches, enable others to do it themselves. Once you understand your ability to handle tasks, communicate them to your team at work and to those at home. This allows you to focus on the task and those around you to know what to expect.