Work-life Balance in the Unstable Norm

work life balance

The situation we’re in right now is like in limbo. We’re not as restricted to our homes as before, but we’re encouraged to keep our social distancing, congregations, and large gatherings still disallowed. Offices have opened, but companies are asked to adjust their staff hours or continue the work from home arrangement so that they don’t crowd common spaces and transportation systems.

For someone who has been stuck at home for months, it’s an opportunity to break the monotony. You’ve probably been seeing the same walls while typing a report, watching a show, tutoring children, or having a video meeting with colleagues. Here are a few simple things we all could do to keep our sanity intact and not be tempted to take health risks.

Vary your workplace.

Although most office setups designate one workspace for an employee, it still feels different when you are at home, even if you have a dedicated table for work. Aside from distractions, its amenities were not built for work. Thus, forcing yourself to work from this setup for a few months might have become stressful.

Doing work plus house chores and other stuff at home, you would’ve already experienced working from various locations in your home. This time, with the easing up of some restrictions, you could explore work locations beyond your home that would not necessitate you to commute like your office. You could explore a local cafe that has tables set up al fresco. If it’s already too cold in your area, check out some shared office locations. They would most likely have rearranged their workspaces so that you could practice safe social distancing.

When at home, schedule health breaks.

If you haven’t been practicing this yet, take health breaks. Health breaks allow you to release some tensions built up while you were focusing on your work. If you’re in a neighborhood with trees and greens, it would be good for the eyes to take in the greens every half an hour.

Do some stretching. If you’re a yoga practitioner or know the basics, you can do a sun salutation during your break to re-energize your body without relying on coffee or sugary energy drinks.

Take the weekends off.

One of the problems working from home is that you don’t feel the weekends that much anymore. You see the same things. You even go through the same routines. So you’re tempted to take out your laptop and proceed with the report you didn’t get to finish on Friday.

Treat weekends as how you would’ve taken them when you were still going to the office five times a week. Even if you had occasionally worked half of some Saturdays before, you most likely planned some recreational activities for the weekend, even if it’s just sleeping in or doing the groceries. You knew it was the weekend. You felt it was the weekend. Resist looking at your work tasks. Put your reports and files in a drawer and lock them until Monday.

Engage in recreational activities that don’t require you to look at a screen. You might be looking at your screen most of your working hours. Instead of meeting and talking in person with colleagues, you are talking with them through a screen. Before Covid19, there had been a screen-free week initiative that encouraged people to stop looking at screens and enjoy other activities. The organizers have postponed community activities for this year, but you can still practice it on your own, even if it’s just for a weekend.

Visit your workplace at least once a week.

If your company allows you the option of working at the office once or twice a week, do visit your office. It gives a semblance of belonging to a company unit, to a team. Remote work could detach us from teamwork, not seeing the others contributing to the total output.

There is also a level of convenience of just visiting a colleague’s cubicle whenever you need something checked instead of going back and forth in emails. You could schedule with your colleagues with whom you need to go over documents. Your team could even have a weekly face to face meeting to check on each other, update on work as well as what’s happening in your families. It helps take off the burden of isolation.

Set schedules and deadlines for yourself.

If there will be no one to keep following you up or you, don’t see your boss or teammates that often, you might be tempted to push your tasks until the last minute. It’s also tempting to find excuses why you don’t want to work on tasks immediately. Maybe you’d convince yourself that working at night would be best when the house is already quiet. Or you move it to the following morning when your mind is still fresh. Set a deadline for yourself. Have a log of your tasks and check what you’ve already completed to motivate you to continue working.

With positive news about vaccine researches, we know that this problem would eventually come to an end. We have to hang on some more and not do anything reckless that would ruin what we have safely guarded for several months.

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