Work-life Balance in a Remote Work Era
I recently dedicated a whole post about promoting work-life balance as an organization. However, this one I want to make it for the talent. Sometimes we, and I include myself, find it hard to establish a work-life balance when working from home. I have honestly found myself checking my email on a Sunday or working until very late on Fridays. Working from home has made this division a lot harder, but also having access to work tools on my phone. So, what can we do in this remote work/online era, to have a healthy work-life balance?
Set a Schedule
This is maybe obvious. But it is the most important. Setting a schedule is a big part of setting boundaries and establishing a healthy work-life balance. These schedules not only include the hours of the days where you will start and finish working. But also the availability you establish with the rest of your team. In my previous post about work-life balance, I told you about how we know not everyone works optimally on a 9-5 schedule. So let’s say your team works from 9 to 5, but the schedule you set for yourself was from 6 to 2. Are you willing to take a couple of hours before you start working to assist any other team members if they require you to?
Let everyone in your team know when they should and should not reach you. Which priorities are you willing to attend outside of your working hours and which will have to wait until you start your workday. Always remember to work the number of hours you feel comfortable with. If you finished before tour 8-hours shift, then plan activities outside of work, do not sit around the computer waiting for dor your shift to be over.
If your shift overlap with the rest of your team is not working and you find that sometimes you have to work too early or they have to stay too late, consider making adjustments.
Zoom Fatigue is a reality. When meetings are scheduled back-to-back, and you are not able to take screen breaks, is not unusual to feel exhausted. Set fixed screen breaks throughout the day. This way meetings can’t be scheduled back-to-back and you get to rest your eyes and your mind!
If you are the person scheduling the meeting, and even if you are not, try to agree with the other parties to an agenda and objectives for the meeting. This way the meeting covers everything that it was supposed to. But also does not take more time than necessary. No one likes meetings where people are just staring at each other. Make sure to appoint a minuter at the beginning of the meeting. Someone that takes notes and whom anyone that missed the meeting can go back to for a briefing.
Make plans for what you will be doing outside of work. I know with a pandemic going on is a lot more difficult. The plans do not have to be the going out and hanging around type. And I will talk from experience for this one, my after-work plans are usually home-based. So maybe just plan to watch a movie with your pets around, plan to cook something for your family. Plan to read a book. Make sure you are focused on things that will shift your attention off of work. Because it is easy if we are just laying around to go on our phone and check work email and respond to them. Try not to.
Get Ready and Take Breaks
This is the thing I have found the most helpful to be productive throughout the day in these last 4 years of remote work. Even though you may feel tempted to start working from your bed in your pajamas. I highly discourage you to do that. Start your day just like you would if you were going to the office and get ready. Wake up, get up, take a shower, have some coffee, eat breakfast. Then start your day. You will see how you will have more motivation to go through your day.
And talking about going through your day. Take breaks. This is extremely important. When we are working from home, with o coworkers or managers around, we can find ourselves deep in the computer for hours straight. This is wrong not only because it is bad for our bodies to stay in a position for too long. But also because we become more fatigued and less productive throughout the day if we don’t take breaks. Make it a point to get up from your chair for 15 minutes at least every two hours. Go make a batch of laundry. Take a short walk. Get on the phone with a relative or a friend. Take your mind and body off of work for a little while!