Have you ever felt like you’re spending too much time working and taking care of other obligations? Like you don’t have time to take care of yourself and your needs anymore? I know that feeling all too well. Nowadays, it sometimes feels like you have to be constantly available and do more and more to be successful. But eventually, this can be really exhausting and endanger our mental and physical health. I know I’m not alone in feeling like I’ve lost, or perhaps never found, work-life balance (or as some call it, work-ride balance). Let me be completely honest and upfront: I’d be lying if I said this felt like an achievable goal to me.

Work-ride balance and the seasons

In the summer, it seems more tangible when the alarm clock rings early in the morning and I can throw on my cycling kit and then go for a ride around Hamburg and only then sit at my desk and stare at a screen for the remaining 8 hours until the evening.

In winter, however, only the Indoor Bike is attractive because I do not really like to ride in the dark. I want to be able to see, perceive and enjoy the surrounding nature, in winter, this is actually never possible before and after work. In such moments, I feel more attracted to riding on Zwift instead of motivating myself to ride outside in the cold and dark. Riding indoors is no substitute for cycling outside, but it’s still better than nothing and allows me to get moving and get my heart rate up. My home office workspace next to it isn’t always the best view, though. It’s hard to switch off from work sometimes. The disadvantages of a small apartment.

40 hours & countless tabs

Many of us work at least 40 hours a week. So do I. I like my work, and I’m happy to be able to do something that I also enjoy most days and that gives me the feeling of doing something with meaning. But with an 8-hour day in the winter, starting in the dark and ending in the dark, a day then feels pretty darn short. Achieving a work-ride balance like that? I think that’s very difficult. I often describe my to-do list in my head with the image of a browser with far too many tabs open. Every time I close and reopen the browser, those tabs are there again, telling me what I still have to do. Housework, cooking, taking care of loved ones, taking time for myself … and riding my bike. I often get the feeling that there aren’t enough hours in the day. To manage everything? Impossible. Something always has to fall behind, something is always left for the next day.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

Albert Einstein

The bicycle as a place of retreat

Cycling is always high on the priority list for me. It is an important part of my life, and I happily leave other things to do it. I love the feeling of being free and alive when I’m on my bike and riding through the countryside. But cycling also means so much more to me. It helps me calm my constant carousel of thoughts and focus on the right here, right now. The impressions, the fresh air, the movement of my legs and the feeling of my pulse picking up speed are soothing for my soul. For a while, I can push my thoughts, to-dos and worries aside and just enjoy the moment. So cycling helps me find my work-ride balance and feel mentally and physically healthy. It’s an important part of my life and I would always prioritize it, even if that means leaving other things behind. It’s just something that means an infinite amount to me.

Finding and maintaining a work-life balance can be difficult. We all have commitments and obligations that take up our time, and sometimes it feels like we don’t have enough hours in a day to get everything done. Add to that the pressure to always be productive and successful, both at work and in our free time. It’s no wonder that many of us feel stressed and overwhelmed, and struggle to find a work-life balance.

My tips for achieving work-ride balance:

But there are ways to get closer to and maintain work-life balance. Here are some tips that can help you, which I am also currently trying to implement for myself:

1 – Prioritize:

It is important to become clear about what is essential for us in life. What are the things that make us happy and give us energy? What are the necessary duties that we need to fulfill? When we know our priorities, we can better decide how to allocate our time and which things we might prefer to exclude to have more time for the crucial things in life.

2 – Realize that a day has only 24 hours:

It is important to realize that we have limited time and that it is impossible to accomplish everything we set out to do. Each one of us experiences this. But the next day will certainly be different again. So pay attention to the good things and don’t ruminate too long about all the things that didn’t work out. It is important to remain realistic and to focus on what is crucial and makes us happy.

3 – Accept or change:

When we don’t like or feel good about something in our lives, there are two options: Either we accept it, or we change it. If we cannot change something, it is important to accept it and learn to deal with it. If we can change it, we should have the courage to do so, even if it is sometimes difficult.

4 – Be open:

Every person is different and has different needs and priorities in life. That’s why it’s important to be open to the possibilities that life offers us, and not just do what others expect of us or what society considers “right”. Instead, we should listen to ourselves and do what is good for us and makes us happy.

When I first heard about work-life balance, I thought to myself, “Yeah, sure, that would be nice. But who can really manage it?” I’m enough of a realist to know that there are days when I have to choose: Work or play? Work or exercise? Sometimes it feels like I always have to choose one side and neglect the other. But still, every day I try to make the most of it and feel balanced.

And you?

As I said, I’m trying to implement these tips for myself right now, but I’m sure each of us has found different ways for ourselves. So, I’m curious: What are your tips for getting closer to work-ride balance? You are welcome to share them with me in the comments.

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