8 Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance
Do you continue to take calls once you’re home from the office? Or check your emails on the weekends? It’s okay – a lot of us do it! But it’s not the healthiest of habits and the pandemic has only made it more of a common experience. With hybrid teams and remote work being the norm, it’s no surprise that we’re finding it harder than ever to draw a line between our professional and personal lives. After all, the couch has now become our work, rest, and social spot. It’s not that easy to “turn off” after work when our space is consumed with it. So, in 2021, it’s more important than ever to maintain our work-life-balance.
We talk a lot about work-life balance, but what does it actually mean? The simple answer is that it means “having a good equilibrium between your professional and personal life.” Consistently working long hours, skipping vacations and weekends, and feeling unsupported at work can lead to chronic stress. This then snowballs into both physical and mental health problems. Without a balance between our professional and personal lives, it’s easy to fall victim to workplace burnout.
Improving work-life balance can be achieved on both individual and organizational levels. With the former, it’s essential to give enough space and time to our relationships, personal responsibilities, and to the things that bring us joy in life. With the latter, businesses need to encourage having a healthy relationship with work. This creates trust between employees and employers and can increase employee satisfaction. So, here’s a breakdown of some best practices for a healthy work-life balance.
Don’t Skip Those Breaks!
Time management is one of the most important aspects of work, and especially remote work. This doesn’t just mean organizing our time while being productive, but also our time while not working! We need to schedule breaks. At the office we’re able to chat with coworkers, grab food, or stretch our legs. At home we’re often isolated and not in contact with people throughout the day. Under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t necessarily be glued to our desks for hours on end, so we should try to step away from our monitors and take breaks.
Routine, Routine, Routine.
Building a routine is game-changing for time management. This means waking up on time, getting dressed, and leaving for work at the same time every day. It’s easy to start or end late, but having a routine gives us a sense of control over our workdays. Prior to the pandemic, we would get home from the office and, after preparing for the following day, we’d normally have some down time. It shouldn’t be any different when working from home. Clocking in and out at the same time every day and planning time off stops us from being drawn to our emails and can stop work from leaking into our personal lives.
Move Your Body!
Once we’ve gotten the hang of taking breaks, let’s consider adding movement to them. We all know that finding the motivation to exercise can be challenging these days, but moving doesn’t necessarily mean doing a workout. Even the smallest movements matter. When using the office, we get movement in our commutes, visiting coworkers, and running errands on our breaks. When working from home, some of us only shift from our bedrooms, to our desks, to our kitchens, and back again. So, we need to remember to move! Perhaps try going for a walk or a light run, doing some yoga, or stretching every day. These actions can also be built into the routine we talked about previously.
Clocking out at the end of the day isn’t always enough. Setting boundaries and limiting how often we check in on work is essential. Applications like Chrome allow you to create multiple browsers so that your bookmarks, homepage, and email are assigned to a specific browser. This gives you a separate one with no business-related links or emails, meaning you can surf the web without constant reminders of work. It’s also helpful to sign off of communication apps and shut project management apps at the end of the day. Try to even turn off notifications for the night!
Separate Your Workspace.
If possible, try to separate work space from leisure space. Some of us don’t have a designated workspace in our homes, but making small changes can still help. Working in bed is not a good idea because it should be a safe and relaxing area – moving to a couch or table is healthier. We often unconsciously associate our spaces with the activities we do in them. So, if you’re working in your bed, you’ll start to associate it with work, and this can make it harder to unwind or sleep. If you don’t have access to a separate space, look into accessible spaces away from home.
Depending on the government restrictions near you, you may want to look into working in a coffee shop or even a coworking space. The Professional Centre offers On-Demand offices that are available to rent for a day, a week, or however long is needed. They grant access to benefits such as a fully equipped office, professional on-site support staff, and refreshments. If you’re struggling with work from home, think about giving yourself a workspace away from your home.
Manage Your “Zoom Fatigue”.
We now use video conferencing for work and socializing. After multiple calls a day, it’s common to feel irritated or extra tired. We should try to look away from our screens or try doing audio-only calls. We can check in with our teams and ensure that all of our meetings are essential. If you’re not needed in every meeting on your calendar, consider opting out from time to time.
Use Your Vacation Days.
It may not feel like it’s worth taking vacation days with travel restrictions and lockdowns in effect, but they remain as important as ever. Just because we’re at home, doesn’t mean we wouldn’t benefit from some time off. We need time away from work to destress, switch our brains off, and to spend time with loved ones. Vacation days might not always roll over, so it’s better to use them rather than lose them!
Enjoy Your “Me-Time.”
We all have hobbies, interests, music we enjoy, food we love, and friends we want to talk to! So, here’s a reminder to take time out of your day to foster those aspects of your life. Start a new hobby or reunite with an old one. Cook yourself a delicious meal and put your favourite music on. Call a friend or family member and chat for a while. It’s easy to feel isolated these days, and it’s important to remind ourselves of all the good in our lives. If our entire week is completely consumed with work and work-related topics, we might forget about the things that make us happy.
This year has been universally challenging and everyone is adapting and learning at their own pace. Finding a good balance between our professional and personal lives is an on-going process! It’s okay to feel overwhelmed or lethargic, but implementing some of these techniques can help shift some of the weight from your shoulders and help you feel rejuvenated.
We were recently featured in The 10 Best Coworking Spaces in Toronto [2021 ] (thebesttoronto.com).
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