How To Be Productive Amid A Laid-Back Lifestyle In Paris

It’s been a little over a month since I’ve been in Paris, and man, has it been hard keeping up with the balance of work and play when life here is extremely laid-back.

Paris balcony
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

I’ll be the first to admit the way I’ve conducted my life thus far has always been: work hard, play hard. It’s worked well throughout college, during my career at the music label, and the start of Jetset Times.

Since I’ve been in Paris, though, it’s been more play than work. And for a workaholic like me, I was starting to feel anxious. Seriously, deeply, nauseatingly anxious. For someone who craves to work 15-18 hour days (yes, I love my job THAT much!) I woke up a few days ago and told myself: Wendy, get your s*** together. Summertime in Paris is NOT an excuse!

Wine, dinners, wine (again), events, countryside getaways, wine (yes, again)…Paris is in perfection with the sun shining bright and everyone’s loving life. But I own a company, so it’s time to shape up! Here are a few tips that I’ve established, quite helpful for those who are also struggling to maintain structure while immersed in a laid-back European lifestyle.

Create a to-do list…

…And list items you can actually cross off. Often times, there’s the overachiever/drenched-in-guilt Wendy who ends up listing 20 things on a to-do list, only to find that 5 things have been crossed off by the end of the day. That list – not so realistic. So wake up every morning, and start with a practical to-do list that you can actually follow. That sense of accomplishment when everything’s been checked off…now, that deserves a toast with a glass of wine!

paris liquer
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Hit the sack at a decent hour.

What happens when there’s a lot of “laid-back” vibes going on is that philosophical conversations start to flow, drinking turns from one to multiple glasses. Suddenly, it’s 4am, and you’re now finally yawning. The next day doesn’t start until noon, which means, your schedule is already pushed way back. If you’re not an ambitious person, that’s fine. But for me, I love getting up early in the morning and have my day starting at dawn, when the city is still asleep and I’ve got the entire day ahead of me to do all the things I want to check off!

I’ve recently learned: go to bed at a descent hour. 1am, the latest. Let’s be real, sleep, too, is the best way to fight the wrinkles!

Paris apartment life
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Don’t give in!

If you’re like me, there’s ALWAYS something to do every night. On a night free of engagements, suddenly a friend will call up for dinner and drinks at his apartment. This is a moment where you need to ask: are you done with work? You DON’T need to say YES to everything! Sure I love to have fun, but I’m also a people-pleaser. I hate saying NO to people, it feels in some way, as if I’m disappointing them. But the feeling of guilt the next day because you barely touched work, is not worth it. So don’t give in to every invitation! It’s okay to stay home and finish what you’ve got to do.

Paris la seine
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Communicate with your friends.

Last week, I finally had to have a serious chat with my friends, who I not only live with, but some are my neighbors too. There’s a group of us living in a gorgeous Parisian apartment building, slotted in different units. Kind of like Melrose Place, but with less drama and a whole lot more really good wine, which means: there’s always a gathering at somebody’s house. After a month of non-stop late nights, I had to communicate to my friends and say: Hey, I’ve got a company to run. I’m going to say “no” sometimes, please don’t be offended.

This is how you know your friends love you! Before they hand you a glass of wine, they’ll ask, “Are you finished with work?” Sometimes, they’ll even yank the glass away if my reply is “no.” Point was definitely taken.

Wendy Hung

CEO, FOUNDER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

As the founder of Jetset Times, Wendy is an avid traveler and fluent in five languages. When she's not traveling, Wendy calls Paris and Taipei home. Her favorite countries so far from her travels have been: Bhutan, Iran, and St. Bart's because they were all so different!

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