The COVID-19 pandemic has upended many things in many people’s professional lives, including whether or not they work in their company offices of at home out of an abundance of caution. Some people enjoy not having to make the commute, however long, into the office while others have found other positives. One potential drawback some people have found is that it is even more difficult to maintain a healthy work/life balance; and most of those same people thought it was difficult before the pandemic! Worry not, however, because this article will give some helpful tips on how to better maintain a healthy work/life balance while working from home.
The first thing to do is get very clear on where the boundaries of work begin and end. Similar to going into the office, think of the specially designated “work time” as the time in which you are 100% there for accomplishing as much as possible for your company and outside of that time you are a ghost. Most people have 1 continuous block of work time, separated only be a lunch/meal, but by all means if having more blocks of work time is better suitable for your schedule, feel free to do so. Again, just make sure it is clearly defined. It is helpful to have some buffer time before and after work time for stuff you have to prepare for or tasks that are running a little bit behind schedule. Note, “a little bit behind” is generally defined as a few minutes. If a task has an hour or more needed to finish it, and it can wait until tomorrow, complete it tomorrow; otherwise hand it off, if applicable.
Prioritization goes hand-in-hand with setting clear boundaries of what your work time will be for any given day. You want to knock out the most important tasks first so that the lesser important things that can wait for tomorrow do get pushed to the next day, instead of the end of your work time approaching and you have multiple hours that still need to be put toward an important task due ASAP. Prioritization also is related to emergencies, which also has a big impact on people feeling like they can never unplug from work. Just because one person thinks something is an emergency does not make it so. If someone is reaching out to you outside of your work time for help with an “emergency” from work, the first thing is to analyze if it really has the priority of an emergency. If it doesn’t, you can decide whether to concisely communicate right then that it can wait until tomorrow or hold off on communicating the reason why until tomorrow as well.
One obvious exception to the previous tip is depending on who is escalating the emergency to you outside of your work time. If it is a superior, or a superior’s superior, that changes things obviously. At that point, the best plan is to just get the task done as soon as possible. The tip for avoiding that from happening over and over is to communicate with your boss and/or teammates, about when your work time specifically is and what things qualify as an emergency outside of that work time.