What Can We Learn from ‘Stranger Things’ About Work-Life Balance?


The hit Netflix series “Stranger Things” IS strange, no doubt about it. Between the scary monsters targeting Hawkins’ residents and the unusual events that perhaps stretch readers’ belief in what’s possible, it’s hard to imagine we could learn life lessons from this series.

Oddly enough, though, there are numerous great life lessons embedded in “Stranger Things” that can help us to improve the quality of our personal lives while simultaneously cultivating the ability to keep up strong levels of productivity at work. Here are five things we can learn from “Stranger Things” about work-life balance.

1. Ride a bike (or other exercises)

It’s a proven fact that physical exercise can help boost your energy, clear out your mind’s clutter, and revitalize your overall self. There is no way Will, Mike, Lucas, and Dustin would have been able to outrun the Demogorgon, demodogs, and other monsters, not to mention the shady government agents, if they weren’t in good shape from riding their bikes daily.

So find a friend, go outside, and get that blood pumping. Enjoy the outdoors and get yourself into shape. Before you know it, you’ll find the fresh air and daily exercise are helping you restore a better balance between your personal and professional realms — mind, body, and life.

2. Limit your phone time

The phone has evolved to become a necessity in modern life. Most people can’t function without constant access to their smartphones. While phones serve a useful purpose, they also can introduce information overload and interfere with our abilities to maintain a healthy work-life balance. For the sake of your mental health, don’t be afraid to unplug.

Make a concentrated effort to schedule periods of time during which you stay off your phone. Too much time on the phone isn’t always a good thing, anyway — just ask Joyce Byers. She learned the hard way about how spending too much time on the phone can be bad (considering the frightening growling noises and electric jolts she received for picking up). Learning to put yours down can help to bring your mind back from cyberspace and restore some inner harmony.

3. Real-life skills are important

Too heavy a focus on work can stifle your creativity if you’re not careful. Left unchecked, this could push you into a career rut. One way to avoid falling into this trap is to pursue some valuable new skills. They don’t even need to be necessarily tied to your job.

Your new skills might just be ones that bump up your capability level in general. For instance, you could take a CPR course and learn how to save someone’s life. Poor Will might not be alive today if Hopper and Joyce didn’t perform CPR on him when they found him in the Upside Down. Or learn something completely different — how to plant trees, prepare for emergency situations, or even construct books — as long as it interests you and engages your willingness to learn.

4. Amp up your tech skills

In today’s world, you don’t need to understand the semi-ancient technology Dustin used to make his own ham radio setup, but you can take a page from his 1980s playbook to ramp up your own tech skills, 2020-style. Even if you’re not tech-minded — or especially if you aren’t — don’t let yourself remain buried in years-old tech that hinders your productivity levels. Learn how to effectively use new software, apps, and other digital tech like the cloud. These can all simplify your technology needs and free up time to focus on other aspects of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

5. Beat the high score

Remember how much fun the “Stranger Things” crew had trying to beat high scores in “Dragon’s Lair?” Beating the high score is a pursuit that’s definitely more fun when it comes to games, but you can also apply this philosophy to your personal finances for way more tangible and lucrative gains.

For instance, having a strong credit score is a foundational piece of stabilizing yourself for a healthy financial future. Monitor your score and make sure you take the necessary steps to maintain and build good credit if yours is lacking a bit. You don’t want to drag down your productivity levels or energy by worrying about your finances. Take care of them so you can work — and play — with a free mindset.

6. Make the effort to network

Networking is a beneficial way to keep your professional life advancing and evolving, but it can also provide enjoyment and other ways to stay motivated. Primarily, you can meet new, like-minded people and learn about new innovations or ideas for the interests or work you share. When you find the right colleagues, the potential for inspiration and action is high.

Consider the way Sheriff Hopper spent so much time networking around town: While he definitely ran into trouble sometimes, mingling with Hawkins’ citizens, he also found out the information he needed to help him rescue those he was entrusted to protect. Just ask Will, Joyce, or Eleven; any of them can vouch for Hop’s excellent networking abilities and their results.

“Stranger Things” is a pretty nostalgic show, despite the creepiness of the Upside Down and the monsters constantly trolling the town of Hawkins. Yet, one can’t help but feel a little wistful for the simplicity of days gone by when watching its characters go about their daily lives (even if we don’t want their tall bangs or neon clothes). Streamlining and simplifying your own life Hawkins-style can go a long way toward helping you achieve a healthy and happy work-life balance.   

About the Author

Molly Barnes is a full-time digital nomad. She works remotely, travels constantly, and explores different cities across the U.S. She started her site, http://www.digitalnomadlife.org/ as a resource for travelers, nomads, and remote workers. Molly writes resources that help office and remote workers alike reach their personal and professional goals of becoming more successful. Follow along with her and her boyfriend Jacob on their blog as they pursue a nomadic lifestyle while freelancing and traveling across the country.

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