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 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV


When Your Work Rules Your Life: 7 Ways to Get Your Life Back

Posted on April 18, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

I got a call after I arrived home from a long, grueling work day at the gym: "I need to talk to you about...." So I finished my conversation with that manager, ate dinner and decided to check email afterward. In my inbox were emails from my boss about work-related topics. My thought was something like this: "Why can't work stay at work? This is MY time." So I left the emails unopened. When I stepped into the personal trainer's office the next day, my boss came in and began talking about something related to one of the emails. Of course, I was a bit clueless about the topic because I decided to protect my personal time. She treated me like a slacker when I asked what she was referring to. "Didn't you check your emails? I sent them to you last night." I was single after my first husband died. Sure, I could let work invade my personal time by "marrying work", but I didn't want to live for work. This became a bigger and bigger problem over time. They were not paying me for their invasion on my time. I even offered to keep track of my time dealing with emails and phone calls from work after hours. That certainly was met with indignation. Where do you draw the line between work time and personal time? How do you tame the intrusion of work time into your personal time and space?

The Global Market Place Never Sleeps

In our global marketplace, that is, the world filled with business and trade around the globe, we have been sucked into a vortex of no rest because 1) the customer deserves to have their demands met, and 2) Asian minds treat business much like war in this global marketplace. My Boaz often gets texts and calls at all hours from around the world. Sometimes, he is up at 4 am with a conference call where it is 4 pm. At least they were kind enough to speak with him at the end of their day so my poor guy could get a bit of shut-eye. One difficulty that occurs in the business sector is the lack of meaningful couple time. Divorces are common with executives, managers, and engineers. An engineer who was divorced decided that internet dating would help him find the woman of his dreams. After several disheartening months, he said, “I keep seeing ‘If you are an engineer, move on.’" The amount of disconnect in many professionals’ lives is a home wrecker.

Children often go to before school care, to school,  then to after-school care. Both parents either work two jobs or extended hours. They drop their children off early in the morning and pick them up late in the evening. They eat dinner late, give the kids a bath, and put them into bed all in the matter of two hours. When do the kids really have time to connect with their parents? Again, the amount of disconnect in many professionals’ lives is a home wrecker.

Fewer Christians attend Bible study, small groups, and Sunday school classes which means discipleship is not at the level it once was. Church leaders requested authors and writers to help them by writing content that covers some of the gaps they have discovered like covenant, Bible basics, basic Christian doctrine, the concept of sacrifice and redemption, among others. Large churches offer live streaming and video recordings of their services for those who can’t make it to worship. Christians are happy to read short devotions but often struggle with personal Bible study and prayer time. Our spiritual lives are taking a hit at an alarming rate. No wonder many Christians follow Zen Buddhist practices like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga pushed by corporate culture. They don’t understand the God who loves them and gave them new life. They aren't able to sort truth from untruths.

Commutes, stress, lack of downtime, and meaningful connections have led to obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Depression and suicide rates have escalated. Lost work time due to recurring illness is also a norm. Most people are relying on various fitness trackers to help them stay active. Yet others hop online to get a workout, while many simply crash at home on the sofa with whatever electronic device is available at that moment.

7 Ways You can Get Your Life Back

If you are anything like me, you wonder how in the world to get back the life you've lost. Here are a few ways to get your life back:

1. Take a moment to look over your life and time. Draw a square with 4 sectors: Personal, Family, Work, and Faith. Figure out what areas are weak for you and what are strong. Then figure ways you can strengthen those vulnerable sectors. For example, if you are suffering by not having your basic needs met like sleep, grooming, downtime, etc. Then write them in with an action plan to build these up. If it is family or faith, figure out what basics need your time and attention then make an action plan to put these back as priorities. After a while, you will begin to see how balance forms in your life. An excellent read: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

2. Start saying, “No.” to time-wasters (Forbes). I’ve watched well-intentioned people take on too many outside responsibilities in their communities and churches to the neglect of themselves and their families. If you are not gifted or talented in those areas, they are not for you to do. If you believe no one else can do it, the way you do, step down from those positions. Chances are it will take three or four people to do what you’ve done because you robbed them of the joy and blessings of doing what they are gifted and talented to do. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you by prayerfully asking God what you should take on and what you should leave to others.

3. Simplify your life. Stop living beyond your income. If you have to use a credit card rather than save up for most of the items you need or want, cut that card and pay it off! You’ve been working for your lender rather than yourself, essentially, enslaved to the debts (Proverbs 22:7). Other ways you can simplify is to clear out the clutter in your home and storage units. Do you need that fancy coffee drink from Starbucks or can you make that at home? See if you can tame your commute by finding a home with less travel time or use public transportation instead. I work from home, while I’m often not paid. We have no debt now, we have been systematically cutting the clutter, and we grow our own food and make gifts for family and friends. We feel so much better living this way. You will, too. Good read: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Also, go to Financial Peace University.

4. Start taking care of your own basic needs to take care of others. Change your eating habits by cooking at home and packing your own lunch. Buy a gym membership, utilize the gym at work, or find an online personal trainer to help you or group exercise class to follow. Restructure your home time to get between 6-8 hours of sleep, even if that means getting room darkening blinds or wearing a sleep mask. Seriously schedule it into your smartphone calendar (The Healthy Leader)! Give these items people names and treat them as Priority One appointments, because they are. When you feel better, you will be better able to care for your family, be productive at work, and attentive at church.

5. Invest in your marriage and family. They are your first and foremost ministry. Your other half needs time and attention that only you can give. Pray together, do devotions together, sit and hold hands, protect intimacy time. Go to a marriage retreat or spend a weekend alone together (Focus on the Family). Your kids are watching how you treat each other because they are learning what marriage should be from you. Then make family rituals like singing songs in the car, doing fun things like playing games and watching fun movies together. Eat together. Worship together. Do family devotions before bed (Intentional Living) Read: Focus on the Family blog posts.

6. Set your phone not to ring or send alerts to you after a specific time at night. Let your boss know that you love your work, but some of the job-related calls and messages need to wait until you come in the morning or just before you leave work (Healthy Leader). Make an agreement with him or her about what must be done and what limits will be acceptable to both of you (Psych Central). Your employer does not own you.

7. The most important part of your life, spend time with God. You can pray with your eyes open on the way to work and on the way home, praying throughout your day and expressing gratitude to God (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ). Sign up for a Bible Study plan with a Bible app. Read it at breakfast or lunch. Go to worship and a small group or Sunday school where meaningful interaction takes place (Hebrews 10:24-25). The fellowship of other believers makes a world of difference in your daily life (1 John 1:7).

Since God didn’t create us to work 24/7, let’s work well at work and live well at home with our families, in our communities, and in our churches. Your attention to your needs, the needs of your family, and your relationship with God will shine through.

Thought for discussion: In what ways does work invade your personal time? Where do you need to tighten up your boundaries with your job? What are some issues that have cropped up when you let work take over your personal time and how did you effectively handle it?

May God bless you!

7 Tips for Setting Boundaries at Work by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. July 8, 2018.


"How to Protect Your Right To Your Personal Time"  The Healthy Leader.

"8 Ways to Achieve Better Work Life Balance" by Jacquelyn Smith.

"Your Marriage Needs Regular Relational Investment" by Scott Stanley. 2015.

"Family Time Means Quality Time". Intentional Living

Categories: health, wellness, relationships

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