3 Strategies to Balance Work and Life While Working From Home
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"Weeks and weekends are blurring all together". "We can meet anytime. There is no time to stop working anymore". Have you heard (or said) some of these comments recently?
The more I hear these comments, the harder I work to separate my work from my personal routine at home, and to prioritize my wellness and mental health.
If you are like me, lucky to have a job that allows you to work 100% remotely these days, I'd bet you are overworked.
Even very good leaders may not have had enough time, or energy, to prioritize their employee's well-being right now. They are in the same boat as you are, juggling work and family responsibilities while trying to help their company achieve financial results, in the face of the economic crisis driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That means, if you don't set your own boundaries and stand for yourself to keep a healthy work-life balance, nobody will.
Here are the strategies I have adopted for the past 3 months, to keep a level of balance for :
1. Have a dedicated work space at home
I live in a one bedroom apartment. My work area is in my living room. I keep it as tight as possible during the week and, as I wrap up my work on Friday afternoon, I remove all of my work equipment, so I don't think about work while relaxing on my couch.
For my personal projects I have a different setup, and I am very diligent about not using the same objects for work and fun. Some weeks ago I bought a Bluetooth headset for work, as I have been on meetings now and I wanted to stand up while doing so. I could've used my AirPods, but I decided not to, as objects carry emotions.
My AirPods brings me thoughts of fun and learning as I use them mostly to listen to Podcasts, audio books and Spotify while I am exercising. I wouldn't want to think about work calls when enjoying music during a nature walk on the weekends.
2. Carve out time to do what you like during your work day
Having a healthy morning routine is very important for my happiness and productivity at work and I've talked about it in this on previous posts.
As we started working remotely, meetings started popping on my calendar way before 9AM, and it has been challenging to re-adjust my morning routine. I have re-invented it almost every week depending on my work demands and how I aim to feel during the day.
This month, I am leading an important project with APAC and I have daily stand-ups at 6AM - the time that worked best for everyone in the team given the time differences. In the first week I was working from early morning to late afternoon. My morning routine was resumed to a 15 min meditation before work on the days I was not too tired to wake up at 5AM.
I knew it was time for a change when my mood started changing, affecting my loved ones. Now I block my calendar between 6:30AM to 8:30AM, so I can exercise, have breakfast and take a cold shower. There was an immediate improvement in my productivity and motivation and the 6AM calls are not as painful as they used to be.
3. Dress up according to what you want to feel in the day
I spent no day during this quarantine in my pajamas. I change even before my 6AM calls. My attire varies from comfortable, to fitness, to business, depending on the mood and what I want to accomplish in the day.
On my team, we usually don't do video calls but when I am a presenter on many meetings, I dress up and turn my video on. In doing so, I feel more engaged and connected with the participants.
Some days I want to push myself to exercise by the end of the day, so I spend the day in athletic gear and when I finish my last call, I am ready to go for a nature walk.
When I exercise in the morning and I don't intend to turn on my video, I allow myself to be comfortable and I don't feel less motivated because of that.
There is always work to be done. I could've been finishing up some items of my to do's for next week this Saturday afternoon, instead of writing this post. I do want to get promoted and working remotely is harder to connect to leaders and show the good work. But working harder may not be the answer.
I've learned over the years, that I need time off from work to be excited and productive when working. Thus, I have no guilt for not being working 24/7 if my peers are trying to do so now.
I've also learned that, although my career has been a priority, to be happy I need balance through different dimensions in my life. Exercising, learning, traveling, nurturing relationships, helping others, being mindful and grateful, eating good food and drinking good wine are some of the things that make me happy. If I only focus on work, I won't be happy even if my career booms.
If you haven't identified what makes you happy, now is a perfect time to embark on this self-learning journey. There are other posts on this blog that can help you with that.