Finding the Perfect Balance: Work vs. Social Life

“We live to work or we work to live” is a very famous question and nowadays, it seems that this is actual. The entire society is moving faster and no one has the time to meditate whether the way we follow, is it actually the best solution. Are there other solutions?

From a very young age we are taught that only by learning and working we may achieve what we want; anyway, nothing good comes with no endeavor. It’s impossible not to have a chief that when starting a job would not preach that without obedience and hard work it is impossible to survive. Is it true? I don’t have a clue and I am sure that none has a clear answer. There the major role is played by the subjectivity of the individual.

Few months ago, by reading this small introduction I would have, quite probable, left the page and asked myself what is wrong with Instant Shift, are they out of cool subjects, is it a place for psychologists or for designers? Fortunately, now I consider that these kind of posts are useful. It is true that it can’t help to boost the design skills but they really help in having a balanced life that assure the necessary conditions to evolve. Not very long time ago I started an utter “fight” against deadlines and now I consider that it was one of the worst situations I ever passed through. The never ending deadlines, many projects taken even if I didn’t know how could I, one designer accomplish all these, were something common on my daily plateau and it affected me. The most usual effects were a perpetual state of nervousness and frustration that nothing was good, nothing was finished in time and everything was going bad. Unfortunately, even the relationship with my relatives and friends weren’t OK. I was busy every time and many times I didn’t answer their calls. In all the “disaster” around me I realized that I was on the wrong way, becoming the best was, most likely, in fact the road to mental illness.

Yep, before becoming the best designer or the most talented coder it is required to solve a complicated equation: the balance between work and personal life. Somehow, it may be ignored and then simply you accentuate only a single term from this equation:

  • You don’t want to have a personal life and clearly the single scope is to turn into a design star by working all the time. Having a clear strategy, patience and combined with a strong will it‘s possible but once again, you are only a very good designer. Under these circumstances it is better to ask yourself, are you human or humanoid?
  • You have a personal life, full of friends and parties but there is no bright future related to the career. Maybe now everything is cool but what will you make for a living in the future?

I think that it is too obvious that the extremities aren’t good solutions (or even these aren’t considered solutions). Willing or not, each one of us must find the best report between work and family, between study and having fun, or between clients and friends.

A young folk before starting working into a company/agency must pass a long period of studies, exams and many other difficult moments. The preparation before starting the effective work is becoming longer and longer and in most cases, a constant self-preparation is required in order to survive. Many of us are too busy and in a hurry to notice but the study and preparation to become a good designer is taking longer and each year new skills are required by employers. By taking this aspect into account its’ quite normal to spend more time than ever just to learn what to do when you got a job.

This is only one aspect that should be taken into consideration when asking ourselves what we have done with our time; don’t forget, “our time is limited”. From this perspective, the problem of the work vs. family is simplistically seen, but it’s a real warning sign. As the day is still 24 hours and we push to the limits the time for sleeping and eating the consequence is neglecting the family in order to become a better specialist. Maybe some of the employees don’t want at any cost to become more specialized but it means that sooner or later you will be fired and outdated. Only just one remark: this is about the time to specialize, but what about the time to work?

This is the big picture of the conditions in which anyone must find the equilibrium. It isn’t only very difficult to obtain it, but many factors ready to destroy what you have achieved constantly appear. It’s no wonder that some people embraced the idea that work is everything and their lives are a long list of deadlines. This mentality isn’t specific only to the web design world, but also in all the fields of activity. The persons who sacrifice their life only to work are called workaholics and their dependency must be treated similar to the ones related to alcohol or drugs. There are no clear terms that determine if someone is or not a workaholic but clearly, it’s important to pay attention to this idea – are you too obsessed with your work?

The economical crisis functions as catalyst that determined the expansion and somehow it is the explanation of the work dependency but there is another wrong idea. Any person must clearly determine what makes him/her happy; some people are happy when they are at home with their family, others are fully satisfied when they gain a greater amount of money and so on. If you are happy when working hard, it’s fabulous and congratulations but, if you work all day long just to be happy for a few moments before getting to sleep, you are definitely on the wrong track.

Once again, the post may be considered as a waste of time but please daily take a ten minutes break to think about you and your life, it’s more important, even than HTML5 or Adobe Photoshop CS6.

The effective work of a person is impossible to quantify but it’s very handy to measure the efficiency of the endeavor done. A designer may create a logo in few days while another can do the same job in just few hours, there is a matter about the efficiency and effective power of each one. Therefore, it isn’t enough just to stay in front of the computer, it’s also about working efficiently.

The matter of efficiency is very often mentioned but, personally, I consider that many times is ignored. The old mentality that there aren’t miracles and only by hard work may something be obtained is still too widespread. Please be careful, it is the main idea of the post and keep in mind: really, no matter how long you work, the only matter is how efficient you are!

As long as you may organize an equilibrated schedule and the work isn’t a burden then you will realize the desired balance. I said that efficiency is many times ignored because there are so many blogs and interesting posts about it or and tons of books and specialists, but people are still searching for the perfect recipe. It’s unacceptable but all depends on our will, if someone strongly wishes to be efficient then it is 50% achieved, if you still expect miracles then you might as well be seated…

The tips bellow are a real boost in order to become more efficient even if for many readers they are boring, very common and have nothing original. Unfortunately, no matter the number of the tips or how detailed these are, without the active participation of the subject there is nothing to improve. Briefly, these really work but there is your participation that is determinant.

1. Set a positive mood. Some psychologists consider it the key of success in everything

Being merely under pressure isn’t by far a solution, it’s the climate that ruins health and, in the most cases, it doesn’t bring any serious improvements. The energy lost by thinking to the worst-case scenarios may be saved and kept for extra activities or for the project in work. Anyway, frustration is a dangerous entity and pessimism is the perfect soil for raising it. As long as the scientists proved that a positive mood is favorable for better performance then I don’t see any impediment not to try.

2. Test yourself and experiment new unconventional methods

The main difference between someone who is really interested in being more efficient and someone that only dreams at efficiency is the fact that the first one takes action. Being more efficient can’t be achieved in just few days, there is strategy and a longer period of time to realize something important. There are tons of tips, good practices and advices but these are general and can’t be valuable for everyone. A serious improvement of the effective power is the result of many attempts and tests hence the best approach is to take as many experiments as you can. Some people are more efficient when sleeping until mid-day, others prefer working very hard in the morning etc.; you must find what is best for you.

3. Try to avoid boredom and monotony

The worst enemies of efficiency are the boredom and monotony and, by all means, these must be avoided. These two simply block the inspiration and make the designer suffocate in his workroom, until complete breakdown is only a matter of time.

The chances, even the most insignificant ones, may have subtle effects at the level of subconscious and activate the inspiration that, of course, aid to an improved efficiency. It seems foolish, but honestly, a new wallpaper sometimes impresses me and give a dose of energy, so much needed.

Another very good tip in avoiding the monotony is a diversified schedule, working only on logos for more than a week would make anyone go crazy, while having a varied schedule, as redecorating a website, learning a new language but also creating logos creates the premises of obtaining better results.

4. Keep and love your deadlines

Satisfaction is a great support for efficiency; it helps keeping the positive mood. A very good idea is to set yourself deadlines and checkpoints to determine your efficiency and the entire evolution of the carrier. The main problem is to create these deadlines in such a way to assure your evolution. The primordial scope in establishing your own deadlines is to set up some standards that once reached the subject becomes more efficient or more skilled. If you consider that watching any episode from your favorite serial is worthy then it is better to reconsider your carrier. A web designer that wants to get in touch with motion graphic should visit some blogs related and create himself a schedule that must contain some checkpoints. A respectable deadline may be in this case, for the first week “learning what in fact motion graphic is and which are the best addresses that threat this subject.”

As important as setting useful deadlines is the reliability of these. If someone considers a reasonable deadline to become a guru in Adobe InDesign is three days without having any contact before then he must be a genius or, more probable, a dreamer. Be realistic with yourself. By setting low standards you won’t evolve while having too great expectations will upset you and the deadlines will be transformed into something irritating and redundant.

5. Don’t be afraid of taking breaks

Unfortunately for them, workaholics don’t usually have the best results. Working all day long doesn’t mean that they are accomplishing tons of projects. The efficiency is variable; you can’t have the same will power constantly, each person has his negative and positive records. As soon as you work without passion and just force yourself to stay in front of the PC, quite probable the results will be zero. In spite of this unwanted situation, personally, I prefer taking a break, enough to refill the energy and inspiration.

Many people are obsessed with this activity but a break isn’t something bad, it is natural and really boosts the efficiency. On the other hand, don’t exaggerate with these, the ratio between work and pauses must be in the favor of the first one.

6. Be prepared for everything

Being under pressure is something pretty normal in these days, this situation has enough powerful negative effects but, surprisingly people don’t fight against it and prefer to consider that sometimes it is necessary to be hurried by someone. Personally, I consider this fact weird but, there are people that are basing their professional life on the requirements of the clients and chiefs.

Anyway, I consider that it is more efficient to ignore all negative reactions of the people near you and just follow your heart. It doesn’t mean that everyone is stupid and only you are genius; it’s your life and career. It’s recommendable to pay attention to other advices but you decide what is better for you.

7. The miracles don’t exist

Many scientists, engineers and psychologists have studied the matter of efficiency. It’s very important, let’s say, to finish today a project in half of the time you done some days ago. It could be written in our nature to be lazy but being more efficient is a long time endeavor and nothing can be achieved in just few days. Only your constant endeavor may be a miracle!

There are moments in the lifetime of everyone when a question becomes too evident not to scare yourself: do you really want to be the best or you want to be just happy? In my personal perspective, being no.1 in a specific field, by far, isn’t equivalent with being happy and content with your work, the feeling of concurrence is even more present and powerful. So before practicing and practicing, before working days and nights it’s better to ask yourself if you are prepared for many sacrifices.

The perfect example that shows the idea behind the previous sentences is Steve Jobs (rest in peace). He decided that no matter how rich he was or how nice it was to stay with your family it is more important to be creative and to bring new technologies. Clearly, he introduced new standards, unseen and maybe unimagined standards of management and creation but he simply abandoned his personal life. It’s was his decision, we must all be grateful to him but always keep in mind his example.


In the end I hope that this post will be helpful and please share with us your modalities of being more efficient, there is no wrong idea and everyone must test and test again to find something really useful for him. The comment form is for you so get in touch with us!

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  1. Hello my name is Stephon Edmond and I think this article is very important and is something I have been thinking about for a very long time now actually for a few years. I am currently 21 years old living at home with my mother while I go to college trying to obtain a career in graphic design. I have been thinking about how much graphic design means to me and what I may have to do in the future compared to my life now. As of right now I have it pretty easy I don’t work cause I want to only focus on school and when its summer time I come home to mommys house and I practice photoshop and I try to get better as a designer in order to hopefully put together a wonderful resume and portfolio for interships and hopefully jobs which is what landed me on this website in the first place. But I sometimes wonder will it be worth it I heard graphic designers dont get paid much and im obviously not doing it for the money if i devote my entire summers to it but at the end of the day I still have to make a living and eat like everyone else and sense I was in high school I have always wondered if my resume and portfolio and all this summer practice does get me a job how much time will I have to spend working? Of course different projects require a different amount of time but will I be able to live my life and have a social life and have time for a quick game of ghost recon or halo during my free time and actually be able to call up a free to have lunch at cici’s or even be able to make me a nice steak if I want to? Or will my life be filled with eating all of my meals in front of my computer just to finish a project on time and will i literally dream about my work during my sleep just because I have worked so much that it follows me in my dreams? I sometimes wonder will it really be worth it just to be stressed out to meet a deadline that was given to me by a client or art director. Which in this case they want a design done in 3 days that could possibly take a week with proper sketches and planning. To me I have thought about changing career paths but still staying in my field of study maybe exploring concept art or something similar. To me whats the point of working if what you get is money that you can never spend on yourself and family and a place to stay that you never get to see besides when its time to sleep? My mother had given me everything and no job is worth me not being able to spend some time with her. I still ask my self will it all be worth it cause design does not happen over night.

  2. Nice motivate works.Really great article.Thank you very much.

  3. we should learn from these kind of theory how to balance life between work and social life, we always learn from research and you also have much information. thanks

  4. Inspirational post. thanks for sharing it with me. You open some new ways to tackle different problems that we often face in our daily online marketing life.

  5. You have really given a great example which is displaying in the image..I am liking it so much!!

  6. Socialization is not the same as having a social life. There was a time when the boundaries between work and home were fairly clear. Today, however, work is likely to invade your personal life — and maintaining work-life balance is no simple task.

    Thanks for this post.

  7. Hi Dan

    brilliant reading. My efficiency advice is, like you say the right balance. My primary tip for efficiency in whatever sector is ‘know thy self’ basic anatomy, psychology, build, learn
    . I talk to myself lol, but my fear is what people will think of me, mate you talk to yourself and organise and sort out whats on your mind. Stimulation is everywere mulittasking is boss :D organise

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