If you’re anything like me, this pandemic has been far from easy and you’re feeling like there is no end in sight! It doesn’t help that all of a sudden, work became where you live and where you live became where you work.
Previously, I had always dreamt of being able to work from home. Now, 11 months into the pandemic, I’m starting to realize how much I took going to the office for granted. I can’t even believe that I miss my commute!
I’ve found that the key to a good work-life balance was completely lost on me once the reality of the pandemic hit. How do you manage when work, school and life in general are reduced to the square footage of my home? Am I the only person who has been asking “How do I make the best of this and keep from losing my mind?”
I’ve had to help myself answer that question because life and work were starting to mesh together causing an uneasy, trapped, feeling. Now, mix that uneasy feeling with all of the other craziness that 2020 brought and… sigh… life starts to get a little too overwhelming.
As it so turns out, I am not alone in feeling overwhelmed with balancing work, life, kids, and all the challenges of moving forward in our “new world.” In fact, many companies are realizing how much money they can save by having employees working from home. Some are playing with the idea of a Hybrid work schedule where some days you would work from home while others are in the office.
Either way, it looks like the key to harmony in your home these days are to create a space that helps you set your work aside or your life on hold while working in your home. Below are some tips to help.
Define Your Workspace
This is absolutely key. Not all of us have the extra space for an in-home office. If you do, that space should be used for work only. When the workday is over, shut the door and try not to go back in until the next day. Because I don’t have an extra room for an office, I’ve created a space in our home in an inconspicuous place that I’ve defined as my workspace.
Don’t Get Distracted
The space you find should be away from any distractions. It should also be away from any household chores. If you put your office space next to the kitchen, don’t let those dishes call your name! In all seriousness, household chores are just that, household chores, not work chores. The idea is to keep home-work for home time and work-work for work time.
It’s really important to choose a place in your home free from chaos and clutter. We’ve all been in those zoom meetings where someone is in an inappropriate location or the background could use some tidying up. Don’t let that person be you. Having a space free from clutter helps you concentrate on the work in front of you
Out of Sight … Out of Mind
At the end of your workday, try shutting down your computer. Close your laptop. Turn off your computer screen. I cannot stress this enough. We’ve all trained our mind to unconsciously recognize notifications on our screens. I mean, we see them all day long. Don’t let the temptation get the better of you. It can wait till tomorrow Remember defining your space helps with this whole notion of keeping work stuff out of sight, out of mind when you’re on “home” time and home stuff out of sight, out of mind when you’re on “work” time.
Take A Break
It’s really important that you find times throughout your day to stop and take a break. Don’t think about work or your home chores. Taking a couple of minutes here and there throughout your day will work similar to a catnap. It gives you the time you need to reset, find that motivation again and break up your day.
Don’t forget to get up and move. I like to do this when I’ve just gotten off of an escalation call and need a moment to calm down or when I’ve just successfully met a deadline and wrapped up a project. Shake it off… literally or metaphorically… keeping your mind at ease is so important.
Keep Track of Time
During this whole pandemic, time starts to mesh together. I wake up, shower, get dressed and jump onto the computer and start my workday. 8am quickly becomes 10am which quickly becomes Noon… oh no… I didn’t take a break; I just kept working through without even realizing the time. Before you know it, you’re fatigued, and your lunch break suddenly doesn’t feel as refreshing as it used to.
While losing track of time can cause you to miss out on the breaks throughout your day, trying to shine and make it known to your boss that you really are working, you’re not off doing something else, can make you miss taking your break. Your boss should understand, after all, they’re likely going through the same thing. Remember that at the office, you probably would have gotten up to converse with a coworker or go for a coffee refill, so it really is okay to do that now.
I’ve personally found that working from home has made me value each step of this new “normal” while still balancing a healthy family life with the kids. Something I’ve always lived by is that no one at home wants you to bring work home with you (unless of course you’re a pastry chef or a chocolatier) and most certainly, no one at the office wants you to bring your home life to work. Check your baggage at the door!
Remember that this pandemic will end. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I know it may not feel like it, but it’s already been 11 months, we’re at the home stretch. Just remember to be kind to those around you but more importantly, be kind to yourself.