Work-life balance is a popular topic lately, and for a good reason.
It’s 8:30 pm on a Tuesday, and Brian is glued to his computer, responding to emails from clients. His regular schedule is the typical 8-5. Unfortunately, since the pandemic forced him to work from his 700 square foot apartment he shares with his roommate and dog, he’s found that his normal time boundaries are a little blurred. Brian justifies his extra work by saying, “Well, maybe I’ll stop work early tomorrow.” But, as you guessed it, he doesn’t.
With the Coronavirus pandemic causing people to work from home temporarily (or for some businesses, forever), professional and personal lives have blended like never before. The blurred lines come at a cost—half of Americans are burned out from working at home. So if you relate to Brian and his increased working hours (or even if you don’t), here are some ways to create the perfect work-life balance.
Use a Planner.
The endless sticky notes plastered across your desk probably aren’t your best organization tool. Order an hour-by-hour planner on Amazon, create one in a notebook, or use a digital one such as Google Calendar or iCal. Plan out your day hour by hour—what times will you be working? When will you take screen breaks, walking breaks, and meal breaks? While the planning may sound tedious, a little bit can go a long way in creating your balance.
As your last task at the end of a workday, plan out everything that you will need to take care of the next day. What are the first things you should do in the morning? What are tasks that can be pushed back to the next day if you run out of time? Additionally, prioritize tasks outside of work. What time will you get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise? If you have children, when can you ensure you spend quality time with them? What time will you go to bed to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep?
When Planning Out Your Day, Budget Extra Time.
Inevitably, things are going to pop up. An issue with a client, your seven-year-old needing a snack for the 5th time that morning, or an emergency meeting with your team. Never over schedule. If a meeting is supposed to take an hour, plan for it to take an hour and twenty minutes. If the meeting doesn’t go over the hour, with those twenty minutes, you can take a break, do some stretches, color with your child, or if you want to work, do small things like responding to emails and putting meetings on the schedule.
Let Others Know Your Boundaries.
Make it clear to your team that you plan on working 8-5, or 9-6, in segmented blocks, or whatever works best for you, your family, and the company. Outside of those times, log off—you are now only available for emergencies. Let your family/roommates know that you would prefer not to be bothered during working hours. Making your boundaries known is not extreme—you are merely replicating the same limitations as if you were in the office. Remember to take your lunch break the same way you usually do—away from your desk.
Additionally, get feedback from your family and friends. Do they feel as if you’ve become less present since the pandemic started? If so, adjust accordingly.
Make Time for Fun.
Now that you’ve got your working boundaries set, what are you going to do for fun after work? For some, that is hanging with their kids, playing with the dog, or reading a book. For extroverts (or even introverts, come on, we get limited face to face interaction these days), plan a small, socially distanced gathering, a phone call with a friend, or a zoom party. Just as you keep your work schedule planned and busy, keep your fun schedule the same way (even if busy just means sitting down to watch a movie).
Taking care of yourself will help you become a better teammate and avoid burnout. Even in times of chaos (such as 2020, let’s be honest), it is feasible to structure your life to keep you and your colleagues happy.
Peoplelogic’s technology can help promote work-life balance by providing real-time recommendations powered by AI. These recommendations, such as “Kim has been working outside of business hours — suggest a day off,” can be a powerful tool for helping drive productivity, engagement, and increasing employee wellness. The platform gives managers actionable recommendations and insights that help spot and correct problems on your team, and between the other teams you work with, before you miss your goals. Get started with your first team, free forever.