Finding Work/Life Balance as a Millennial

A few weeks ago, my good friend from college invited me over to barbecue on her roof. Her view was absolutely incredible, with mountains on every side you looked.

Before heading up to the roof with our tray of cooking supplies, we both checked to make sure we had our phones. The idea of going upstairs without them didn’t cross our minds.

As the chicken kebabs sizzled on the grill, both of us sat on the rooftop, staring at our phones. “I have so many emails,” she said. “Same here,” I replied. Without exchanging another word, the two of us started reading and responding to our email; our eyes glued to the screen and our fingers quickly tapping. Clearly, we were both dealing with a case of the ‘Sunday Scaries.’

The timer for the barbecue went off and I quickly put my phone down. After turning the kebabs over on the grill, I looked up at the sky. “We missed the sun go down,” I told her. She followed my gaze and seemed surprise. Dark blue clouds now covered most of Mount Rainier. That’s when we decided to put our phones away.

After disconnecting, we started talking about when our parents were our age, thinking back to the days of pagers and phone booths. We wondered what it might have been like to leave the office and have no means of contact with anyone. Whatever emergencies would arise between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. would simply have to wait.

…engaging with people over email on the weekends, or late at night, set the expectation that I was online and reachable at all times.

However, that’s not the world we live in today. Technology always us to be everywhere and nowhere. “When other people are writing to me on Saturday or Sunday, I feel like I have to respond,” my friend said, “if they’re working on the weekend, shouldn’t I be too?” It was a fair question – I have asked myself the same thing. Since I couldn’t respond with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ I decided to share the words of wisdom that my boss once told me. In a nutshell, she explained that engaging with people over email on the weekends, or late at night, set the expectation that I was online and reachable at all times. I was making a commitment to availability without realizing it, and seriously disrupting the scale of work/life balance. In a way, I was setting myself up for failure.

Since then, I have learned to prioritize what needs my immediate attention and what can wait. Finding a balance between being responsive and being present is key. Naturally, there will be times when work/life balance is uneven, but it shouldn’t always be that way. In order to be as present as possible, channel your focus and prioritize! At the end of the day, sending an email is not worth missing a sunset.

Zoe Kahn

Native New Yorker with a big crush on the PNW. Lover of live music, crossword puzzles, and oxford commas.

Latest posts by Zoe Kahn (see all)