4 Ways to Find Work-Life Balance in the Midst of Quarantine
One of the lessons that the “stay at home” order has taught us is the importance of finding a work-life balance. Although it wasn’t always easy, physically going into the office often forced us to leave any family issues at the door. The commute home gave us time to decompress from a day full of meetings and transition into family mode. But now that we work from home, how do we keep work at work if work is now at home?
Give yourself some space.
Literally. Chances are you’ve got a laptop, a calendar, forms, and a dozen other items you need to get through your work day. Organize a space at home that is solely for work time. If you’re lounging on the couch while on a conference call, or responding to emails while your significant other lies in bed next to you, you’re blurring the lines. You’re likely to see an increase in your productivity if there is a space that is only meant for working and away from distractions like the TV and the pantry.
You’re likely to see an increase in your productivity if there is a space that is only meant for working and away from distractions like the TV and the pantry.
Additionally, set up a space for your kids to do their schoolwork. If you’ve already claimed your home office space, set them up at the dining room table or other space away from distractions. It is likely that your students are experiencing the same trouble separating school and home. A physical space will help delineate the difference.
For bonus points, think of your attire as if you were still going into the office. If you’ve got a work meeting, throw on a dress shirt, run a comb through your hair, and look the part. Even if you’re more casual than business casual, wearing something other than your old sweats will help your mind transition to work mode. When it’s time for home mode, what you wear is up to you.
Set boundaries with your coworkers.
Let your coworkers know that if they need to contact you after 5pm on a workday, and they should send you an email to your work email address, not a text to your personal cell phone.
While we’re all guilty of taking work home with us at the end of the day, it was much easier to punch the clock at 5pm and be on our way back when we had an actual office to attend. Let your coworkers know that if they need to contact you after 5pm on a workday, and they should send you an email to your work email address, not a text to your personal cell phone. That doesn’t mean you can’t work after 5pm, but it will be up to you when you check your work email in the evenings or on weekends. It is much easier to set aside an email rather than constant texts all evening.
It’s true that not all of us are lucky enough to completely unplug at quitting time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have boundaries with working. Decide what is a reasonable workaround for your job and responsibilities and try to stick to it.
Involve your kids.
Speaking of distractions, if you’ve got kids at home during all this, they increase the difficulty level to 100. Many of us have added “substitute teacher” to our job titles in addition to the job you’re actually being paid for. Have a common working time where kids do school work quietly and you can catch up on some work as well.
However, remember that your kids also count as your “home” time. They, too, are trying to find a balance; however, unlike you, they are much worse at managing their time, and they’ll need your help. If you’re playing with your kids, set the phone out of reach (yours and theirs). If you need to be on-call while with family, have the phone within earshot, but not in your hand or stuck to your belt. If it’s within reach, it will be hard to suppress the need to constantly check it.
Give yourself some grace.
Let’s not forget that you’re trying to work from home, help kids with school, and buy toilet paper all during a global pandemic. A global pandemic! If you’re not the family cleaning out closets and baking bread each day, that’s okay. If you’re just getting by with what you’ve got, that’s okay. Take it day by day. It is inevitable that your work and home life will intersect during all of this, but how you react to it is up to you.
If you’re not the family cleaning out closets and baking bread each day, that’s okay. If you’re just getting by with what you’ve got, that’s okay.
If there’s a toddler on your lap during a Zoom call, go with it. If you’re solving logistics problems over the phone while you solve algebra equations with your teenager, you rock. And if you’re ordering pizza or takeout for the third time this week, think of it as supporting local businesses. There’s no “right” way to handle problems in a pandemic. Do what works for you and your family, and you’ll come out on the other side of this changed for the better.
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