10 ways to reclaim your work-life balance – working remotely in the pandemic

10 ways to reclaim your work-life balance – working remotely in the pandemic
Source: Pexels, Anna Shvets

Reclaiming your work-life balance amidst a pandemic that necessitates remote work may seem impossible. Technology plagues us with constant communication, which means employers and professors expect us to be reachable 24-7. How can we be present in our lives when emails flood our inbox, demanding our attention with innocuous pings?

Some workers or students might find it easy to ignore the never ending parade of to-do lists, but others can’t help but let work and life bleed together. When work and school invade our home life, our mental health plummets and our relationships can pay the price. Check out these 10 tips to find a healthy work-life balance between work and family time.

Learn to beat procrastination

Procrastination is the death of healthy prioritization. Who hasn’t spent hours scrolling through TikTok or cleaning instead of answering a simple email? Prioritization challenges even the most productive among us, but laziness is not the culprit. Our mind focuses on how we feel in the moment and struggles to take into consideration future emotional consequences. In a world dominated by instant gratification and fast lifestyles (fast food, fast news, fast communication), optimizing your productivity is paramount, but counterintuitive.

Putting off writing a paper gives us immediate relief, while writing that paper releases negative emotions. Those emotions include self-doubt, boredom, frustration and more. You can either try out quick fixes to procrastination or you can put in the work for long term improvement. Because negative emotions cause procrastination you have to manage those emotions. Train yourself to associate positive emotions with your work, like curiosity and self-compassion.

Set boundaries

You’ve just eaten dinner with your family after a long day of Zoom meetings. It’s 7 p.m. on a warm Thursday night. Your partner wants quality alone time to watch the sunset. A buzz in your pocket distracts you, so you slide out your phone to check your notifications. It’s your employer. She wants a document edited as soon as possible. What do you do? If you put your phone away to deal with in the morning during work hours, you are a rare bird.

Remote work has erased boundaries between work and home life for employees and employers. Your employer and colleagues may assume this has opened up your availability, which is why it’s necessary to set boundaries. Put away your phone and email your boss in the morning to discuss reasonable hours for work communication. Having a set schedule for work and personal time allows you to be present in both aspects of your life.

Have a morning and evening routine

When you commute to your office, you automatically have a morning routine. Wake up, check social media, drink water, exercise, shower, get dressed, eat, head to work. When you return home, you often reverse the routine. Head home, de-stress, eat, watch TV or read and go to sleep. These rituals mark a clear beginning to your workday, whereas when you work from home, a routine can slip away and leave you wondering when life stops and work begins. Maintain a routine and you’ll maintain a schedule.

Keep your work space separate

When your bed doubles as a space for sleep and homework, how can you distinguish between those two opposite mindsets? We associate our beds with comfort and sleep, which will inevitably reduce your productivity. Ensure that your work space does not intrude upon other aspects of your life.

Create a clean and creative work space

If your work space lacks natural light, organization and other necessary attributes to help you work effectively, then you may need to redesign your remote office. Keep the area separate from the rest of your living area. Make creative solutions for organization and pleasing aesthetics so that work is a motivating space free from distractions.

Set screen time limits

Turn it off, turn off notifications or set limits on certain apps. Screen time consumes our lives, from social media to Zoom and text to email. As shops, restaurants and the outdoors begin to open up, try to leave your mobile device at home and enjoy the people and nature around you.

Don’t answer emails after the work day ends

Just sending a quick yes or no may seem harmless. Why not just get it done now? Just like setting boundaries with your employers and coworkers, it’s important to set boundaries with yourself. Make a cut off time to respond to emails. It can wait until the morning.

Connect with nature

Surrounding yourself with green spaces can range from a morning in the garden or on the terrace to a weekend in the woods with a tent and a sleeping bag. Regardless of the climate in your region, find an outdoor activity to stimulate your brain and body. Nature helps reduce stress and focuses you.

Keep in touch with friends and family

Human connection can feel so limited and even empty when you have to use FaceTime to see a friend or family member. When you have scheduled times to visit with others, it can feel like an obligation rather than a nice chat. Instead of squeezing in a brief FaceTime, try to organize a fun activity like reading a book together or watching a TV show together by sharing your screen or watching at the same time. You’ll connect on a more meaningful level.

Connect with others in your field

LinkedIn has morphed into the new Facebook for professionals. Connecting with others in your line of work can help you find new and better ways to balance work and life. Ask for advice, buy someone above you a virtual coffee over Zoom. Once remote work begins to return to the office, these connections will help you learn and advance in your field.

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