The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the daily habits of employees across the country. As of writing, New York is at the epicenter of the American coronavirus outbreak, with over 66,000 confirmed cases.
Remote working, which used to be an optional arrangement for businesses, has now become mandatory to stop the spread of the virus.
Fortunately, technology has given people many opportunities to work when, where, and how they want. But it’s this flexibility that has made it much harder for employees to switch off. When homes become a working environment, it’s often difficult to compartmentalize professional and personal lives, which forces people to work longer hours than ever before.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial to preventing burnout and ensuring your well-being. Here are five tips to help you find the optimal balance and get back on the right track:
#1. Keep work and personal life separate
Work and personal life often end up overlapping. What starts off as a manageable workday ends up creeping into our free time, just like how our personal problems can put our professional lives in jeopardy. When you’re not supposed to be working, emails and instant messages from work often pop up. And, when you are supposed to be working, things like social media and other personal notifications end up distracting you.
That’s why you need to designate specific hours to work and, during that time, eliminate non-work-related distractions. For instance, you can start your day at 8:00 AM and finish at 5:00 PM, after which you can dedicate the rest of your day to your family and other personal activities.
#2. Schedule your time in advance
How much you schedule your time depends heavily on your preferences and the way you work. Some people like to schedule every minute of the day, while for others, the lack of flexibility can be soul-crushing.
Nonetheless, it’s still important to assign important tasks, both personal and professional, to certain time blocks to prevent yourself from getting bogged down with otherwise trivial matters. Outlook Calendar in Office 365 is a great tool for planning blocks of your time throughout the day. You can also use Microsoft Planner to create to-do lists and set up shared project management boards with due dates so you can coordinate with your team and stay on top of your tasks.
#3. Try the occasional digital detox
Many people now keep their smartphones with them while they sleep, and the barrage of notifications is steadily getting worse. The expectation of constant availability has made it nearly impossible to switch off from work, which is not healthy for anyone.
A digital detox, during which you switch off your devices, can be enormously beneficial for your physical and mental well-being. It’s even possible to set your online status to "do not disturb" on your communication apps so you don’t get work updates during specific time blocks.
#4. Start small and build from there
One of the most common mistakes in finding an optimal work-life balance is setting unrealistic goals that end up fizzling out, leading to disappointment and demotivation. Crash diets, which entail sticking to a very restrictive diet to lose weight, are a common example. In our professional lives, we often think about financial goals that are usually beyond our control.
Others spread themselves too much on multitasking, trying to get as much done in as little time as possible. But by far the more efficient approach is to start small and gradually build up until you’ve achieved an optimal level of efficiency. Again, to-do lists and project management trackers are great tools that encourage you to break down large goals into smaller, more manageable chunks.
#5. Keep track of your mental health
Being isolated from the rest of your company (and the world) can take its toll on your mental well-being. That’s why it may be beneficial to schedule weekly check-ins with coworkers over video conferencing apps like Microsoft Teams. Conversations don’t have to be about professional work; they could be short sanity breaks where you stay up to date on people’s lives, how they’re coping with the pandemic, and what they’re doing to kill the boredom at home.
On your own time, you can also exercise and practice new hobbies to occupy your time and protect your mental health while self-quarantining.
#6. Limit time-wasting activities
Achieving a better work-life balance begins with identifying the most important things in your life and ensuring ample time is allocated to each one. In your personal life, that might mean spending time with family, whereas in your professional life, it might mean focusing on bigger and more lucrative projects rather than menial tasks.
Focus on the people and activities you find most rewarding, because if you can look after yourself, you’ll be much better positioned to look after the needs of those who depend on you.
Capstone IT provides you all the tools required to effectively work from home. From teleconferencing solutions to powerful cloud-based apps, we can help you work efficiently so you can make time for yourself during these difficult times. Call our consultants today to get the services you need.