We are often told how important balance is. between work and personal life and master the skills of effective time management. But does this kind of advice work for those who work well beyond the standard forty hours a week? Anyone who is forced to combine work and study day after day or stay in the office late into the night often finds it difficult to find the time and energy for something else. We asked people with busy schedules to share how they manage to cope with the workload, find motivation, and manage to live.
Interview: Alina Kolenchenko
Works 50-60 hours a week
I have been working in a media agency for almost ten years. I am an engineer by education, but I decided to change my field of activity to a more creative one - and I have never regretted it. When I got a job at the agency, I clearly understood that I would have to work a lot - in fact, I had to master one more specialty. Fortunately, I didn't have to pay rent and help my parents, which allowed me to concentrate on the process.
It is difficult to imagine working in an agency without the "24/7" prefix. This is a customer service with all that it implies in the form of urgent requests and life from deadline to deadline. A working day of ten to twelve hours is the norm. Work on weekends, on vacation, especially if you are involved in a struggle for a new business or there are unfilled positions in the team - too.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones who can say with confidence: "Yes, I love my job." This, of course, does not cancel difficult periods, crises, but interest in the chosen area does not disappear from this. The only negative is overload. When you live by profession, the only chance to achieve results and not burn out is to develop self-preservation schemes and learn how to regulate the volume of cases.
On weekdays, I see my husband only late at night, but we always try to sit at least a little with tea or a glass of wine without telephones and the Internet. It is important for me to devote time to loved ones. Life in the capital is greatly facilitated by the opportunity to order food and grocery delivery, call a cleaning service and even a manicurist. I believe that you can and should spend money on this when you work at a high pace. If you cannot exchange the earned rubles for the quality of life, then why all this?
Worked 40 hours a week, studied 15 hours a week
At seventeen, I entered college and left my hometown. I needed money for food and training, and I got a job as a concierge in a large hotel. From early morning until lunchtime I was at school, then ran home to change and rushed to the hotel. I always got home after midnight and, while suffering from insomnia, went to bed closer to three or four in the morning.
Several months later, against the background of constant lack of sleep and fatigue, I began to burn out emotionally. I might have one day off a week or not at all. If I had free time, I tried to take up my studies, but more often I just cried into my pillow from sudden mood swings, aggression towards loved ones and a lack of understanding whether I was doing everything right in this life. I can't remember a single bright event for that year, only a busy schedule and fatigue.
After some time, I was transferred to another department, the work became less nervous, and I finally began to think about myself and my well-being. I began to ask for a weekend and travel more, to allocate time for quality rest, sports, hobbies and friends - this helps to return to life. I love this job, but I know that in the near future I will definitely find a place with a more flexible schedule.
On duty several times a week
I am a resident of a medical institute, very soon I can officially be called a doctor - orthopedic traumatologist.Nowadays, study is essentially no different from work: the same medical records, wards, operations, and so on, the only difference is lectures and seminars, which, however, are quite rare.
I have been involved with traumatology for four years, in my senior years I began to be on duty at the hospital and continue to this day. Usually there are one to three shifts per week, which sometimes fall on weekends and holidays. There are two shifts in a row, and this is real hardcore: you wake up at seven in the morning, you go to school, you are on duty there, the next day you wake up at school (if you are lucky to sleep), you study, you go to another hospital and work again all night, the next morning you return to school again and only in the late afternoon do you finally get home. There are no special recipes that help me get together and work further after a sleepless night; in serious situations, concentration turns on by itself, regardless of fatigue. But the load on the body is great. Yes, and to be honest, sometimes I manage to sleep quietly.
In general, I have time for everything, but I would like more free time - I spend it on developing my own business and communicating with loved ones. I cannot say that I like my work, but it does not cause disgust either. The gratitude of people is also motivated by the fact that you immediately see the result: here a man was sitting, writhing in pain, you set him a dislocation - and he is already smiling. And, of course, money motivates. I would like to change jobs, as I feel that this is not my calling. It would be great to work for yourself.
Works 22 hours a week, studies 24 hours a week
I started working in the second year of the pedagogical institute: I was an animator in restaurants, an educator, a nanny in families, a sales assistant in a clothing store, an observer at exams. It was not easy to combine all this with study: during the exams I had to tell heartbreaking stories - this tactic helped me out more than once, as did the fact that I work with children. Now I am in my last year and have been working at school as a computer science teacher for six months. In addition, in the evenings I teach computer literacy courses under the Active Longevity program.
I consider myself a workaholic and have long been accustomed to the fact that there is practically no free time. My whole life is spent outside the house. I try to set aside time for fitness, go out with friends on weekends. I feel comfortable living in such a rhythm, the only thing that sometimes depressing is the amount of time spent on the road. I turn on the music and try to at least somehow relax, but at the same time I am preparing for classes, studying the material. Unfortunately, I do not have the opportunity to read books "for the soul", because the entire trip is spent on solving work issues and other problems.
I love my job. Being a teacher is truly rewarding work. I like to watch how children grow up, to share knowledge with them. Pensioners also energize: before they were afraid to go to the computer, but now, thanks to me, they are actively texting and talking with children on Skype. This is the highest award for my work.
Works from 50 hours a week
I work as an editor in three jobs: an advertising agency, a bank and a voice acting studio. I've been with the agency for seven years already: I got a job as a proofreader when I graduated from university, simply because the work was a couple of bus stops away. Since then, I received my (editor's) diploma, I got promoted, I got my second diploma (translator's), my office moved from my favorite area to my unloved one, my colleagues changed several times. And I keep sitting, because I have a very comfortable schedule that allows me to take a part-time job, a super-understanding boss, cool colleagues and a social package. For a long time I was tormented by the desire to quit and even received a couple of offers, but a crisis broke out, and I decided not to twitch, moonlighting as a freelance. I took on a variety of jobs, because the main disadvantage of being an editor in an advertising agency is a rather low salary (no Balenciag for you!).But last year I was offered a job at a voice acting studio, and I enthusiastically agreed (TV series, reality shows and documentaries, communication with interesting people, the creative component), and a couple of months ago I also took remote work with texts for the bank (very, very good salary).
I start working from home - from the moment the first task falls, I appear at the agency for lunch. On those days when I need to go to the voice acting studio (usually twice a week), I come early to leave at three - at the studio I usually have shifts from four to infinity (recording can be unpredictable). At the same time, to solve the problems of the agency, I am always in touch. It happens that on the record you have to urgently switch to proofreading the advertising layout. Recently I was working on a series that we recorded on Sundays - so there are downloads on weekends.
I really love this work, it gives me joy (sometimes with tears in my eyes - and more than once or twice I slept a couple of hours a day, because physically I did not have time for anything). There were times when I didn't go to bed at all. When I woke up after a short sleep in the toilet, I realized that I had to unload, so at the suggestion of the bank I organized help for myself. Now I sleep for the prescribed eight hours (hurray!) And am not deprived of meetings with friends. I share housekeeping with a young man: he who is free is with a rag, mutual assistance and care for each other is the main thing.
I have a job for the soul (studio), financial security (bank) and stability (agency - with insurance and seniority bonuses). Everything suits me. Wild overloads happen not because I have three jobs, but because I take on too many projects, fearing to refuse someone. As soon as I established this process and became bolder, life became easier.
Worked 35 hours a week, studied 25 hours a week
In my third year, I moved to St. Petersburg to study and immediately got a job. I studied to be a logistics manager, worked as a sales assistant in a hardware store, while independently providing myself and paying for training, so there was no choice whether to work or not.
At first, it was very difficult to get into both work and study at the same time. I was always thrown off balance by minor failures. On average, I worked seven to eight hours a day, and studied for another six hours. I always carried with me several containers of food, which I emptied in a hurry on the escalator in the subway. At work, I often dined with a can of corn or beans - I had to save. I was very tired, but the romanticization of the move and the atmosphere of the city gave a good energy boost: on Friday I could go out all night and after a couple of hours of sleep I had the strength to work out a ten-hour shift. There were no days off as such, except on exam days.
Sometimes it seemed to me that I was doing everything by inertia. I didn't particularly like my job, but it was interesting to communicate with people, share information and help. But studying was boring for me, and I always had to spend part of my earnings on retaking exams (all retakes were paid).
I felt bad all the time, but then I did not understand it - on the contrary, I liked that I was constantly busy. I defended my diploma, which was not useful to me, changed about five jobs - I just can't find something that can really captivate me. Now I more and more often regret that then I did not have free time. It was worth stopping and thinking, not running away from myself.
Works over 60 hours a week, studies 5 hours a week
I work as an auditor for one of the Big Four companies and came here right after graduation. I usually work from nine in the morning to ten in the evening, sometimes longer. My record is two days in a row with one and a half hours of sleep. Sometimes you have to work on weekends, and sometimes it really pisses me off.
Do I like my job? Yes and no. Sometimes I think that I have forgotten here at all. But when, after a couple of difficult days (or weeks), everything is ready and closed, I forget about bad feelings.I am motivated by my colleagues - smart, good people, ready to answer questions and support team members. A huge plus is that the team changes with each project: if someone pisses you off, you know that you only need to be patient for a couple of months. And yet, if there are no projects, you can take an unpaid vacation even for the whole summer. The main disadvantage of my work is that I constantly have to perceive a lot of information, and this is tiring. In all companies, everything is different, you have to learn again.
On weekdays, apart from work, I usually only have time to eat. On the way home in a taxi (after ten in the evening the company pays for it) I read a book, listen to music or play on my phone. Once a week I try to leave work for the gym, but it doesn't always work out. I spend my free time on weekends on sleep, sports, books, I can have a drink at the bar. I don't do household chores. I also study for a master's degree, but I rarely appear there, mainly to cover debts.
It's hard to live in such a rhythm. I would like to change jobs, but not now, but when I have more experience and knowledge. In the fall I should be promoted, but if this does not happen, I will immediately go in search. I want to have a standard schedule, from nine to six. Though I might change my mind when I get promoted.
Works 50-60 hours a week
In the summer, before the start of the fourth year at the university, I decided to look for a part-time job. I was studying to be an economist and wanted to find something related to my specialty. It seemed to me that working in an audit company fits this criterion - although in practice this turned out to be absolutely not the case.
At first everything was fine: there was not much work in the summer and you could leave early if there were no tasks left for the day. But by September, the volume of work had grown significantly, plus studies began. Almost every day at nine in the morning I went to work, then left for one or two important pairs, and after them I came back. I never got home before ten in the evening. Two years ago I graduated from the university, but it didn't get any easier. In winter, I have the strongest workload - this is the specifics of the audit - so now I work every day from nine in the morning until ten or eleven in the evening. By mid-spring, the schedule will become less stressful and it will be possible to leave a little earlier. I often have to work on weekends. This is not necessary if you have time to meet the schedule, but it is almost impossible to meet it.
On weekdays, besides work, I only have time to sleep, but this is more likely because everything is already closed when I am free. I'm thinking of finding some 24-hour gym near my house, I want at least a little physical activity. All household chores, shopping, cooking, as a rule, are postponed until Sunday. I do not want to spend grains of free time on this at all. I can’t say that it’s hard for me to live in such a rhythm. The only thing I lack is communication with friends.
Works 54 hours or more per week
Now I have two jobs and a part-time job: I'm a social media editor, a book editor, and a bit of a copywriter. I have two full-time jobs (with part-time jobs) since 2014. One for the soul, the second for money, and a part-time job - to help a friend and at the same time try himself in a slightly different field.
I started working at the publishing house when I was still studying at the university. First she came for half a day, and then went out for a five-day week with an eight-hour working day. After some time, I realized that I needed more money and started looking for a new job. I found an SMM with a 3/3 schedule, announced this to the chief editor and asked me to look for a replacement. For the duration of the search, I suggested going to the publisher two days a week and see if I would continue to publish the same volumes. It turned out to be a working scheme. I don't have to sit for eight hours in the office, and new items come out with the same frequency. At the same time, I can come at any time I want or need to and leave the same way. I can come at two and leave at five, or I can sit until the night, if something is urgent.
SMM is a different story, I have an eleven-hour working day (most often from 07:00 to 18:00), 3/3, regardless of holidays and weekends. But I got used to it and found a lot of advantages in such a schedule. It takes fifteen minutes to get to work. When weekends fall on weekdays, I can go to the cinema for morning or afternoon screenings, where there are few people, there is also no one in shopping centers, it's easier to get to exhibitions. I can also go on a spontaneous trip for three days - and in general it seems that there are more hours in a day. Plus, I know exactly what time I will leave work and that I will not take work home. That is, if I need to go to the theater, I will come to the theater by seven, and no one will ask me to finish something.
I have enough time for my personal life, and for friends, and for entertainment, and for travel (because of the schedule, one of my vacations, for example, lasts 21 days). I have no feeling that I am sacrificing anything. Well, maybe sleep: on three working days I sleep about five hours. It could have been more, but films, serials and performances will not watch themselves, and books will not read themselves. I sleep on the remaining three days and when the weekend falls on Saturday and Sunday.
Of course, all my life I would not want to work in such a rhythm. In general, I want to work exclusively for the soul, and not for the sake of money (who doesn't want something?). But the problem is that I still don't know what I want to become when I grow up.
PHOTOS: Dan Kosmayer - stock.adobe.com, Timur Anikin - stock.adobe.com, MoMA Design Store