In our past Suitless Pursuit articles, we’ve interviewed people with amazing passions that they are pursuing after their regular day jobs. But let’s face it, some of us (including some those we have interviewed) don’t necessarily have a true “9-5” job.

As someone who works in the advertising industry, I’ve never really considered myself a “9-5”-er which is what has inspired me to write this piece and provide 6 tips on what I use to try to keep a balanced life and ultimately, the time to pursue my own passions outside of work.

1. Learn when to stop.

Being connected on my phone means that I bring work with me everywhere. And I mean everywhere. It's easy to say to myself “what’s another hour going to do anyway?” EVERYTHING. Next thing you know, you’re still somehow stuck at the office at 8pm on a Thursday with the cleaners keeping you company. Work will still be there tomorrow, can it wait?

For those who live in a world where “everything was due yesterday,” I would take a break anyway. Go home. Eat. Go for a run. Do what you love. And get back to it later if you have to. Or maybe the break will make you realize you don't really have to worry about it tonight. Although we live in a world where work follows us everywhere we go, it also gives us the control to take it with us if we chose.

2. Managing your own time is everything

I won’t touch upon the tactics of time management since Reina did an amazing job providing her own tips and tricks. I suggest you read her article here (if you haven’t already).

But I wanted to mention is that there really isn’t a right answer and you’ll just have to try new methods to see what works for you. For me, I am dependent on to-do lists. Not on my phone, not in my work calendars, but on paper. I’ll take 10 minutes out of every morning to write a whole list down of what I have to do today (in priority order). I carry that list around with me with a red sharpie and cross off as I go. There’s nothing more rewarding than crossing off an item myself and it actually pumps me up to tackle the rest of the list and the day. Simple methods like that one can really boost your productivity so you can focus on the bigger things at work.

3. Don’t look at your phone before bed.

Do you really want to risk dreaming about that e-mail from Finance asking to do your timesheets? Just don’t do it.

4. Take 30 minutes every day to do something that’s important to you.

That’s it. 30 minutes. It sounds easy but with someone who works around the clock, with their work phone buzzing 3 times a minute and clients in different time zones all wanting things now, you actually forget to stop and smell the roses (as cliché as it sounds, it’s the best way to put it).

It could be as small as a short workout, making yourself a cup of tea, watching a show, reading your favourite blog, calling a family member, etc.

Don’t let your job let you give an excuse of “I’m too busy” to do the things that will make you happy or give your time for yourself. It's amazing what those 30 minutes can do to restore your mind.

5.Take a staycation.

You don’t need to go to a sunny all-inclusive to really unwind. Being as busy as you are, it’s actually nice to have your place to yourself and catch up on your everyday life.

Have lunch with a friend, get a massage, binge watch on Netflix, experiment with some cooking, anything!

6. Read.

I’m guilty of not doing this. I was always told by both my University professors and by my colleagues to be aware of the news around the world and read a book once in a while.

So I started doing 2 things.

1.) I realistically don’t have time to read a full newspaper every day, so instead I make sure to listen to the news on my way to work, before work or within the first hour at the office.

2.) I also forced myself to join a book club with my friends.

Although this may sound easy and natural to some, it’s incredible how much this allows you to keep your mind fresh, open to new things, and ultimately, challenge you to create opinions and shape your interests outside of your challenges at the office.

We all understand that working a job with longer hours than expected in the beginning of your career can become extremely stressful. It’s easy to lose sight of pretty much everything else in your life. Although your career is important, it’s just as valuable to make time for your interests and passions. It may not necessarily be to something as grand as those we have interviewed, but you never know. Give yourself room to keep an open mind.

For me, I ended up finding my “outside of work” passion through the creation of this website. It hasn’t been easy, but because it feeds my interest to always find inspirational content, it challenges me to make time with the help of the above 6 steps.

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