First of all, work life balance is a myth. There is no such thing. It’s never truly in balance, but if we are lucky, or rather intentional in how we structure our days, we can perhaps achieve work life harmony. Here are 3 practical ways to get started!
And wasn’t working from home supposed to make that easier? Without a commute we were going to use that extra hour to exercise, eat a proper breakfast, or watch cartoons with our kids. Instead, how many of us are actually just sitting down at the computer earlier? And ending work later? And realizing at 2pm that we are still in our pajamas…
The reality of 2020 is that all the lines in our lives are blurred. Everything now exists in one space. Your home is now your gym, your kid’s school, your office, and the local (Zoom) hangout for happy hour. So how do we go back to achieving the equilibrium we’d hoped to have with this new “gift” of remote working? Here are a few simple tips that you need to implement today (seriously, today).
Do not disturb
We can’t help it. A work email pops up on our phone at 9pm and we feel compelled to see what it is “just in case.” If we didn’t see the pop up, could it have waited until tomorrow? Probably. But now we’ve disengaged from time with our families, our dinner, workout, etc. and shifted into a work mindset. Even if only for a moment, it often takes multiples longer to resume being present.
Many of us have the do not disturb setting enabled on our phones to block calls and other notifications during certain hours – usually when we are sleeping. Why not set the hours to be more in harmony with actual life? Perhaps at the start of dinner until the next morning. And don’t worry, you can add parameters so that if there is a true emergency or you don’t want to miss a call from a specific person, it can override the do not disturb. But for everything else – it can wait.
Schedules are your friend
When we were going to the office, most of the time the start and stop of our workday was fairly predictable. Now we look up from the computer mid-afternoon, teeth unbrushed, lunch uneaten, and wonder what month it is. Even if you have to set alarms to help you stick to it, get back to a true schedule. And that means lunch and rest breaks as well!
More below on setting and sticking to schedules…
We still need to get our work done; and if we want to more predictably unplug and recharge at the end of the day, that means working smarter and more efficiently during the day. Here’s how:
Step one: Take the notification pop-ups off your email. Trust me. Do this now. You’ll be amazed at your increased ability to actually finish one task before starting another with this simple trick.
Step two: Assess the day. First thing in the morning, map out your day; what must get done, what would you like to get done, and marry those with what’s already on the calendar. Block out time on your schedule for each task on your list. Does it all fit? Do you need to reassess what’s doable in a day? Of course, some days are unpredictable, and an unexpected fire can derail your plan, but having time-blocks makes it more likely that you can keep control over the majority of your days – and that others will respect your time as well.
Step three: Schedule your meandering. Seriously. It’s unrealistic to think we are going to be “on” all day every day and working from home it’s even easier to get distracted. Just own it and build in appropriate time for some quick internet browsing, social media scrolling, laundry or housework. Emphasis on appropriate and when the timer goes off, it’s back to work. How else are you going to actually finish work on time?
Step four: If scheduling feels unnatural, there are tools to help! It’s ok if scheduling and time-blocking do not come naturally to you. There is a whole industry built to help! Everything from Trello to sticky notes, there are endless tools designed to help you keep control of your day, your projects, and your to-do lists. Here are 30 of the best to investigate and see what feels organic to you.
This year has been the ultimate disruptor. But with disruption can also come innovation. Work/life harmony does not just happen; you have to intentionally create it. Try these tips to transform the day-to-day and create your own fulfilment and stability in an otherwise chaotic time.