As you’re watching “Stranger Things,” does it leave you feeling a little wistful for the simplicity of the 1980s? Life was different back then! Microwaves were a new (and huge) deal. Scrunchies were a thing. Computers were invented but were nowhere close to being mainstream yet.
In the ’80s, most people worked 35–40 hours a week and pretty much closed up shop at 5 p.m. Their employers had no expectations that employees would work outside of normal business hours, or from just about anywhere.
Fast-forward to today: Technology has progressed so much, it’s changed the dynamics of how we work and live, making it possible to work whenever and wherever we can and will. While many of these changes have been for the better, some of them haven’t. As a result of this new portability and connectivity, our work-life balances have gotten out of whack.
If you’re looking to restore balance between your professional and personal lives, take a page out of the Hawkins’ playbook with these seven tips.
1. Embrace Your Inner Geek
The tech of the 1980s was kind of awkward compared to the sleek technology you see on the market today. Remember how Sheriff Hopper used microfiche to try to learn more about the government conspiracy in Hawkins? While it was no Google, it still helped him save time in his investigation.
But using new tech doesn’t mean you can’t still get in touch with your inner geek. Just use that tech strategically to buy back some hours and make room for enjoying the fun things in life. For example, you can utilize cloud storage to avoid a time-consuming and costly data breach, or download productivity apps to help you make the most of your work hours.
2. Use Tech to Truly Connect
Most people today are on their phones a good chunk of the day, a “convenience” which also totally interferes with work-life balance. Between ever-accessible email, texts, and social media disruptions, it’s hard to get things done.
Take a cue from Mike, Will, Dustin, and Lucas, and use your tech to truly connect. These friends used walkie-talkies to make plans — then actually GOT TOGETHER to hang out. Forget using apps and texts to have conversations, and instead, try this: Use your phone to connect and make plans for getting together and doing something fun. According to studies, people are happier when they interact with family and friends, so use your phone to make plans, not replace activities.
3. Move to a New Place
Hawkins, Indiana, might not be your idea of a happening neighborhood (unless you’re into being sucked into the UpsideDown or spending your time trying to outwit the Mind Flayer), but it has plenty of charm. If you’re looking for some change in your life to restore balance, consider a move. It doesn’t need to be to a place as remote as Hawkins; why not try a Midwestern city like Chicago, for example?
Chicago is a surprisingly affordable city with all the great amenities of other, bigger, faster, and more expensive cities. Moving to a new region takes some getting used to, but it’s doable. Just ask Mad Max. While her brother Billy didn’t make out so well, she fared a lot better, establishing great friendships and bonding experiences.
4. Don’t Lose Sight of Creativity
Will used art to unlock the secrets hidden in his brain. Why not take his cue and try it yourself? Whether it’s sketching, woodwork, pottery, needlework, writing poetry, or even scrapbooking — basically anything that suits your fancy — it’ll help you to relax and free your mind. In the end, this can help you become more effective and productive at work.
5. Beat the High Score
The 1980s was arguably the golden age of video games. Sure, home video game options were simplistic and clunky, but they were still cool and engrossing. If you wanted something more spectacular to help you unwind, you could always go down to your local video arcade, bowling alley, or roller-skating rink with a roll of quarters.
Today, you don’t have to go anywhere. You can play games online against friends, the computer, or yourself. Don’t do it for too long, as excess gaming can hinder productivity in its own ways. But a periodic, timed video game session can do wonders for blowing off steam and clearing your head.
6. Share the Burden
Many people tend to take on too much in their jobs and end up reaching the point of burnout, which destroys work-life balance to a degree that makes it hard to recover. Avoid burnout by sharing your work burdens with others. Not only are most people happy to help, but teamwork also tends to create some amazing results. For example, Lucas didn’t like Eleven at first, but eventually he came around, and the group clicked. Imagine: If the original foursome had shut out Eleven, how much worse off Hawkins would have been without her contributions?
7. Tell the Truth
Speaking of Eleven, if you want to maintain a happy lifestyle balance, it helps to live the motto of “Friends don’t lie.” Lies only lead to stress, hardship, and loss. If you’re having trouble at work, and it’s impacting your productivity levels, take proactive steps to fix the situation. Don’t try to lie and say things are fine, or beat around the bush and hope someone picks up the hint. Candidly and honestly talk with your boss about your workload and where you need help. Just remember to use tact when you do it.
Nowadays, many of us have lost our work-life balance to an unrealistic expectation: that simply because we could work 24/7, we should. The reality is we don’t have to. If you’re like most people, you’re looking to strike the right balance between your professional and your home lives. Restore your inner peace — and balance — by taking steps to simplify your life, and enjoy both of your “lives.”