Balancing Work and Home Life during a Pandemic
I don’t know about you, but as a creator, balancing work life and home life has never been more difficult. With our work time and home time being spent inside, in close quarters with our families, roommates, or partners, we must establish some firm methods to keep our work and home life separate.
Let’s first talk about why this is so important.
Both our time spent working and time at home are extremely important for overall wellness. When we can maintain both, we can better manage anxiety, achieve more clarity, boost our productivity, and experience closer and more profound relationships with ourselves and others.
In other words, when we properly balance the two, both are better. Our time spent with those around us, or individually, is more fruitful because we are present, and we avoid being distracted by miscellaneous work tasks. Similarly, our work will be more efficiently completed, and we will be more focused, and because of that, what we are creating will be the best it can be.
Now that we understand the importance of balance between home-life and work-life, let’s talk about five ways we can better separate the two.
1. Set regular work hours
It can be really tempting when working from home, to splice up your work hours because, well, you can, right? If you want to stop in the middle of work to watch a show, or bake some cookies, or go for a run, you’re able to — but hear me out. When you instead outline working hour blocks that are only for work, you can remain more focused, more productive. Once your work block is completed, you can move onto home-life without any work distractions. Currently, I work from the hours of 8:30-12:30 each day. During this time, I block out anything that is not work-essential. No watering plants, taking social phone calls, catching up on shows, or incorporating exercise — this block is for work only. It helps me to get so much more done in a short and solid amount of time. Once I am done with my work block, I can move fully into my home time.
2. Exercise (preferably outside)
Believe me, when I say, exercise is at the bottom of the list of what I wake up wanting to do each day. It isn’t an easy thing for me to make happen, but it is essential in achieving work-from-home focus and balance. One of the key struggles when working from home is that real focus can be hard to come by. You are dealing with so many distractions, whether it be kids, pets, roommates, or the never-ending-to-do-list of at-home tasks trying to pull you away from work. I find that if I start my day by getting outside and doing a bit of exercise, I can better focus on my work. I generally feel less stir crazy for the rest of the day that follows. Exercise is going to boost your ability to focus, which means you will get more work done in less time, which means you can put work aside at a reasonable hour to then focus on your home time.
3. Put the laptop away
When your work hours are over, it can be tempting to let work linger for a bit. Maybe that last phone call of the day happens outside of your set work hours, or maybe you continue to respond to a few messages or emails in the evening. Even the smallest distractions can take you away from fully experiencing your home-time. The reason this is a big deal is because of what we discussed earlier — we want to make sure that when work is over, you use your home time to step away and be fully present. This allows you to recharge your brain for work the next day, and recharge your soul with time spent doing the things non-work-you loves to do. The way I do this is by physically putting my computer away and putting my phone on Do Not Disturb. I also try to communicate with the people I work with about my set hours and let them know when I am leaving and that they can plan to hear from me in the AM when I am back at work.
4. Wear headphones
This might sound like an obvious one, but with two kids – it is key to our balancing work life and home life. We have noise-canceling headphones that we use to block out any ambient sound while we are working. This is also a nice signal to your partner, or kids, or roommates that you are in work mode, and just creates one more barrier to you being distracted during that time. I also try to have a playlist or two that kick off my work time to cue my brain to get those creative juices flowing!
5. Maintain home routines
When work becomes entangled into your home life, it can be easy to relax on at home routines you once practiced. We find, especially right now, with the added stresses of life that maintaining these familiar routines is crucial. Once your work is put away for the day, try to practice one or two of your home routines to fully recharge. A few that we find essential to do daily: spending a few minutes stretching and deep breathing, having our nightly tea and pillow talk, and going on a family walk. These always help me to really focus on spending time with my people and getting my mind off of work to be present at home.
I know that, especially under the current circumstances, this may feel like a lot. But know that with better boundaries, you will be able to make your work time and your home time more fruitful overall. And that is only going to make you more productive, more focused, and happier, which is the most important thing.