Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many people are now expected to work from home. While this “new normal” of working remotely may have its perks - working in your PJs, spending more time with pets or family, not having to commute each day - it also has its downsides. In particular, many people are struggling to maintain a work-life balance while working from home.
Employers may expect their staff to be available at all times in case an issue arises, even if the situation isn’t urgent. Additionally, it’s difficult for some people to stop working on a project or answering emails at the end of the day. They may feel pressured to keep being productive, or they simply don’t have anything else to do while stuck at home. Working for hours on end and constantly being on-call can be mentally exhausting and may potentially lead to complete burnout if left unchecked. Before you reach that point, try following some of these tips to help improve your work-life balance during quarantine:
- Start Your Mornings Right - Although you may be able to sleep in every morning, getting accustomed to this schedule will only make things more difficult once workplaces are allowed to reopen. Try to keep getting up at the same time that you usually would for work. You could use the time that you would usually spend commuting or getting ready to make a healthy breakfast, go for a walk, read a book, or simply sit and enjoy the sunrise. Having a peaceful start to your day and taking care of yourself first thing can significantly improve your mood, helping you feel more prepared to accomplish everything that needs to get done.
- Take Breaks - It isn’t healthy to sit hunched over a computer forcing yourself to work for hours straight. Take a few minutes to stand up, stretch, and get yourself some water or a snack. How often you take breaks depends on personal preference - if you like to focus on projects for long periods of time, try to take a 15-30 minute break at least every two hours. On the other hand, if you prefer working for short periods of time with small breaks in between, you could try working for 30 minutes and then take a short 5-10 minute break before getting back to work.
- Stop Working at the End of the Day - Forcing yourself to work ahead on a project or finish something that could have waited until tomorrow may be tempting, but it usually isn’t worth the added stress and mental fatigue. Step away from work and let yourself rest at the end of the day. Pushing yourself too hard could result in burnout, which is characterized by feeling chronically fatigued, having poorer performance than usual, experiencing increasingly negative moods, and possibly getting recurring headaches or stomach aches.
- Limit Contact Outside of Work - Relaxing after a long day of work is difficult when your phone continues to light up with emails from coworkers. One option is to disable the email notifications on your phone, or set up “Do Not Disturb” so certain apps won’t show notifications after a specified time. However, if you don’t feel comfortable completely blocking out your coworkers, try to be more selective with the messages you reply to. Does that email really warrant a response right now, or can it wait until tomorrow?
Maintaining a work-life balance is critical while working remotely. You may feel obligated to sacrifice your well-being because of social pressure and implied expectations from managers and coworkers. However, pushing yourself too hard can have potentially serious negative effects on your health. Give yourself time to rest and refuel each day - after all, you won’t get anywhere if you’re running on empty.
submitted by Melissa, Portage County Business Council Intern