Are you struggling to separate work from home, now that the both happen in a 10-foot vicinity? You’re not alone. According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of Americans are currently working from home. Given the increase in home office spaces, experiencing difficulty in separating work life from home life is natural, if not expected. While this transition may be temporary for some and more permanent for others, we must all learn to continually find balance. Even for those still commuting to in-person jobs, the pandemic has likely introduced other lifestyle changes that require us to take a step back and focus on a healthy well-being.
As we make adjustments to both work life and home life, keep the following 7 tips in mind.
1. Establish a designated work space
Setting aside a space in your home is a practical way to separate work time from home time. Set up a desk or a section of a room, only to be used during work hours. Make sure your space is equipped with everything you need for effective work, perhaps including noise-canceling headphones, device chargers, a notepad, water and snacks to keep the energy flowing. A comfy chair also helps, but don’t sit somewhere you’re tempted to doze off. After clocking out, don’t use this work space for anything else. The physical separation will help you to psychologically detach from work once you’re off-duty.
2. Clarify your schedule
Maintaining an office area at your house can feel like a luxury. However, having all of the technology and supplies a few steps away from your family space can also have some major downsides. Your employer, coworkers and consumers may be making calls and sending emails to you after-hours knowing you’re near your workspace. With no social outings or weeknight events, you might find yourself voluntarily occupying your free time with work tasks.
Creating clear boundaries is essential to working from home. Turning your work notifications off or setting an automated email reply for after-hours can help you focus on down time and de-stress from the work day. Clarify your work hours with your employer as a reminder to both yourself and your boss that expectations should be appropriately managed.
3. Decide on your priorities
Take some time to reflect on your priorities, factoring in career aspirations, family life and safety. In our current circumstances, a perfect balance may not be feasible. However, knowing where we rank our priorities can help us to see the light at the end of the COVID-tunnel and plan accordingly.
If you’re at a juncture in your life where you’re hoping to move up the ladder, maybe hunkering down during quarantine is a great opportunity to prove your dedication. Now might also be a perfect time to refocus on family and bring back family dinners. If you feel like your job conflicts with the things you hold most important, or it jeopardizes your safety, embrace the tricky decision of a potential job change (or take some time off).
4. Use your weekends and vacation days to your advantage
Planning an elaborate vacation during a pandemic might be off the table, but make sure to make your time off more special. Spend some time outside, or plan a movie marathon on your day off. Look up stay-cation ideas to focus on time with family and distance yourself from the duties of your job. Although it may feel like there’s no reason to take vacation days, find an excuse to treat yourself and take a long weekend to take care of your mental health.
5. Keep your bodily health in mind
Like many of us working from home, you may find that the bulk of your job involves sitting in front of a computer. Strolls through the office, lunch runs and commuting are no longer integral parts of our daily routine. Our step counts have likely fallen by the thousands. Remembering to stay active – not just while working out, but throughout the day – is essential to holistic health.
It is recommended that adults should not be sedentary for more than 30 minutes at a time. Set timers or make a commitment to getting some movement in every half hour, even if it’s just walking to the kitchen to get a glass of water.
6. Balance screen time
Spending all day staring at a computer for work can take a physical toll. Watery or weary eyes, sore back muscles, cramped necks and headaches are all symptoms of remote work. Balancing screen time may be one of the hardest things we have to do after work, especially because television streaming services provide such an easy outlet for unwinding.
Designate an appropriate amount of time each evening for screen time. In addition, look to exercise, cook, play board games, take a walk or call family members to give your eyes and body a break. And if your job requires you to be on your feet all day, find some activities to balance the strain by doing seated activities when you get home.
7. Find some joy in your work
Working from home or adjustments made to in-person work during the pandemic have likely taken away some of the fun aspects of having a job. Conversations with coworkers in passing, recognition for in-office achievements, even surprise donuts in the office are sadly absent from our work-from-home lives.
If you want to bring this joy back to your work life, try to reincorporate small joys into the daily grind. Host virtual lunches with staff or drop off coffee to nearby coworkers. Continue the relationships you had in the workplace and go out of your way to welcome any new hires over the past year. Celebrate little victories and relish any of your business’s successes.
Balancing work life and home life is a challenge present in the forefront of most people’s minds. Our struggles to manage the two are exacerbated by the pandemic and ever-changing work arrangements. Designating a workspace, making a clear schedule, deciding on your priority, using vacation days, keeping your body healthy, balancing screen time and finding joy in work are practical ways to promote a healthy work-life balance.
If you’re worried about the emotional toll which the pandemic can impose, know that Pyramid Online Counseling is always here to help. Teletherapy can connect you with licensed healthcare professionals, ready to help you effectively manage thoughts and feelings as they arise. Call (833) 525-3077 today – or reach out online – for professional help in maintaining a professional work-life balance despite any of the challenges that come your way.