Entering the workforce as a full-time employee after just having spent several years of your life in an educational setting can seem like a big switch. After all, there are some definite differences between an office environment and a lecture hall. Plus, working at an ice cream stand near the beachfront every summer for 15 hours a week isn’t the same as working eight hours a day, five days a week.
However, there’s no need to feel like you have to give up everything you know to thrive at work. Work-life integration is the new norm, and these easy tips will show you how your work activities and the things you do during time off don’t have to be entirely separate.
- Stay in Touch With Non-Work Friends
Any sort of major change in life can make it harder to stay in touch with people who are nearest and dearest to your heart. As a compromise, some people just focus on making new friends at work. That’s a good goal, because it expands your social circle.
However, be careful not to cut ties with the people who loyally helped you study for that tough French final and even the playmates you had as a child who kept supporting you through college.
One downside to mostly having work friends is you’ll tend to congregate and complain about workplace matters that are stressing you out, whether it’s an upcoming project deadline or a supervisor who seems like he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed every day. Venting can be a good thing, but friends should also help you take a break from work, not rehash things about it.
- Know Your Limits
In college, many people had to deal with a workload that was more or less the same as any other person’s in a given class. The nature of academic papers, exams and group projects tend to make people feel like they’re on a treadmill and they have no choice but to keep up the pace. Failing to do so in those cases might ultimately mean failing the class. But now, in the workforce, there’s a good chance things will be different.
Supervisors often give you choices about taking on more responsibilities after you’ve proved yourself. Sometimes it’s tempting to assure them you can do more than is healthy, just because you’re trying to make a good impression.
However, it’s important to know how much you can feasibly do, and try not to go over that limit. Otherwise, you’ll probably find yourself still trying to get work stuff done outside of office hours or at least spend too much time at home fretting about it when you should be doing something more fun and relaxing to recharge for the next day at work.
- Understand What Makes You Happy
Happiness means different things to different people. Maybe you have your sights set on saving up for a biking excursion through France or you get a lot of fulfillment from volunteering to teach English to refugee children once a week. In other cases, maybe your idea of happiness is settling down on the couch with a freshly made bowl of popcorn and a favorite film.
It’s essential to not only understand what brings you happiness but also build time into your schedule to engage in it. In some cases, you may even be able to get colleagues in on the fun. Perhaps if you’re an avid biker who likes to pedal to stay fit, you could send a sign-up sheet around your office to see if anyone wants to join you on your outings. That would allow you to do something enjoyable and potentially help you get to know new people. Exercise is also worthwhile because it encourages good health and can keep your stress levels low, too.
These are just a few tips that can ease your transition into a full-time job. All of them will probably be easier to put into practice if you work for a company that makes you feel fulfilled and valued, so choosing a workplace carefully is important, too.
About the author: Sarah Landrum recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she’s a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. She’s also the newest addition to the Campus to Career family, serving as a featured contributor on a regular basis. You can find her tweeting during boring speeches @SarahLandrum