Meet a Gen Zer who made life her full-time job — and work her part-time job
Gen Zis redefining how work fits into life, from quittingen masse to setting firmer boundaries.
- Kimi Kaneshina went viral on TikTok for making life her full-time job and work her part-time job.
Kimi Kaneshina, 24, used to save her social life for the weekend. She used to think that weekdays were for work and evenings were for decompressing from work.
But that was before she, like many Americans, experienced a period of pandemic burnout.
"I definitely was feeling burnt out, and I knew that people were quitting left and right," she told Insider.
So she decided to make a change, which she documented on TikTok. Her life would become her full-time job, and she would treat her job — while still technically full-time hours — like a part-time job. The mindset shift is less about the hours she puts into each and more about the brain space she allows each to take up. The message struck a chord, with her first video reaching over 300,000 views.
As part of Generation Z, born between about 1996 and 2012 and set to make up 27% of the workforce by 2025, Kaneshina is one of many workers questioning how and where work fits into their lives. The generation is turning workplace norms around through unionizing, hopping on the anti-work train, or setting the work-life boundaries that other generations weren't able to put in place, even if they tried. During a time when remote work meant working longer hours for many people, Gen Z is rethinking the role work plays in their identities and forging a new path for themselves.
"I feel like there's a huge difference in how we value our worth compared to other generations — and knowing your worth means that you can be fine leaving a good job, or fine separating yourself from a job," she said.
One small change every week
Kaneshina started small and gradually. Every week she'd focus on changing one thing about her mindset, hoping the small habits would build on each other.
She started by scheduling things for herself on weekdays after work.
"Prior to me thinking about my life this way, I always thought that all my social life had to be done on the weekend," she said.
In subsequent weeks, she started going on more walks. She began running errands during the day that she would usually push off. She made sure she was seeing at least one friend a week. On the weekends, she'll still see friends, but also brainstorm things she can do for herself in the week ahead.
By prioritizing post-work socializing, she's learned she's more extroverted than she thought, and having more human interaction has been fulfilling.
"The job is to sustain yourself, give you an income, but then really what are you doing with that money after you have it, after working those hours?" she said. "For me, it was hanging out with friends, spending more time outdoors, or just doing more things for myself that I really enjoyed doing."
Taking care not to turn work and life into two full-time jobs
There are three main tenets of making the shift, Kaneshina said: Be intentional not to overextend yourself — you can cancel if there's too much happening that day. Stick with the process, and don't beat yourself up if there's a day where you have to message someone to cancel. "Some days are better than others and that's fine," she said.
Ask yourself every day how you'll prioritize yourself and your life — literally. Making it a to-do item on your list means you have to sit down and figure out how you'll do something that's important to you. "Not only think about what your day will entail, but actually close your eyes and imagine what that perfect day could look like for you," she said.
There's a whole slew of other little things you can do. For remote workers, changing out of work clothes and into a different outfit at the end of the day can help create space and make the second part of the day feel like a new day.
Of course, changing a habit isn't always easy, "especially because it's just so deeply rooted in us." She still struggled, especially as she had to think of new things to do and when to do them.
"At one point I was like, wow, this is a lot of new change and it's really exciting, but there are some days where I just couldn't accomplish everything," she said. "But really, I think that's okay. I think as long as we make some progress, that's better than no progress."
Having more time in a day
With her life as her full-time job, Kaneshina said that it feels like she has more time now.
"Being able to view the second half of your day as like a whole new day was really eye-opening to me," she said.
Like many workers who used to commute to an office, she does have more hours of her own.
Prior to the pandemic, about a quarter of Americans worked from home at least part of the time. Then, come 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' time-usage survey, workers spent 26 fewer minutes commuting, the average time they spent working dropped, and 65% of college-educated workers over the age of 25 were working from home.
For some workers, that time saved has stretched into, well, more time working. As Insider's Aki Ito reported, some college-educated professionals are seeing work bleed into life more with remote work.
But most Gen Zers never experienced a traditional pre-pandemic office and the expectation that they always had to be available. They joined the labor force during a time where the labor force was rethinking itself. That's meant that office friendships may no longer exist or not be as strong. But Kaneshina said that's also shaped the Gen Z mindset toward work — and how young workers are spending their time.
"There's less identity tied to our work, because a lot of us didn't start in the workforce right away. Or if we did, it was from home," she said. "I think that also leads to another point, where the sense of community has actually been created by ourselves — not necessarily by our work environments."
And it's not just TikTok users who have been taking inspiration from Kaneshina. The journey led her to make her own successful shift.
"Ironically, after I was making these videos and really gung ho on this whole idea, I actually decided that it was time for me to start looking for other jobs," she said.
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