5 Tips to Help You Successfully Achieve a Work-Life Balance
Wondering how to juggle the pandemic era work-life norm? You’re not alone, check out our 5 tips to help you navigate it below.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, our lives have been turned upside down, not least by the disappearance of a physical workspace. This has been thrust upon us with little warning challenging our pre-existing concepts of the relationship between work and home life. Pre-Covid, of course we all hoped for a work-life balance but achieving it, especially in HK, was largely elusive for most of us. Due to the global nature of business transactions with different geographical regions and time zones accessible through smartphones 24/7, employees likely felt the notion of a work-life balance was mere fantasy or wishful thinking. Then, the present pandemic stopped us in our tracks and forced us to use home as the new office…off and on… depending on government lockdown and restriction rules. You could be forgiven for feeling discombobulated. The question now is, can we separate work and home life so we can satisfy the needs of both while remaining adaptable enough to switch between physically working at home and at the office as restrictions and bosses require?
Everyone’s situation and preferences are different so there’s no easy answer. However, working at home is probably more unfamiliar and difficult for most, especially if you have family living with you. You’re confronted by issues of where and when to work within the home, so you won’t be disturbed, and more crucially for your mental health, how to disengage from work to allow some personal and family time. The answer may lie with reimagining daily routines quite familiar to you, such as, the daily commute to work where you’re able to use that journey to process the workday and decompress before arriving home energized and ready to focus on family time. How can you translate and capture the same mental ‘stopgap’ working from home? Read on for some top tips.
5 tips to help you mentally square away work and enjoy a personal life whilst working from home
1) Clear your work materials from sight to signal your end of the work ‘day’.
Out of sight, out of mind, in theory at least. You need to make a concerted effort to clear your mind and physical space from work since you can’t leave the office building to go home. Keep away from emails and WhatsApp messages. If work-related thoughts start to creep into your mind, acknowledge what went well and what you enjoyed, then detach. Designate an area of your home for work alone e.g., a desk and chair in the corner of your lounge or bedroom. At the end of your work sessions, shut the door or close your devices down and stay away until your next work session.
2) Differentiate between work and personal life attire, as you would working from a traditional office.
Just as you need to differentiate between work-life spaces within the home, you need to distinguish between work-life clothing to mentally help you detach and switch effectively between these two domains. Although it’s tempting to stay in your pj’s all day, this will make switching off much more difficult.
3) Allow yourself some ‘me time’ and get some fresh air outside of home.
If Covid restrictions and lockdown rules allow, help yourself mentally disengage and decompress post work, by getting right away from home e.g., taking a walk around the waterfront or one of the many Hong Kong parks or beaches. Do things you enjoy both for yourself and with your family. If you have children/partner, allocate specific times to do activities with them, such as, Sunday family time.
Studies have shown an effective link between exercise and psychological detachment. Time outside, aside from the benefits of re-energizing fresh air and a healthy boost of Vit D, acts like the daily commute providing you with an opportunity to separate from work mentally and physically.
5) Return home with a different mindset.
After your revitalizing fresh air/ exercise/ family activities, give yourself permission to walk through your front door without giving work a thought, at least until the next day or scheduled work session.
You need to take concrete steps to physically disengage from working at home. Spending time outside, soaking up Vit D rays etc., gives you back that essential time for reflection and planning while crucially putting you back in charge of your mental well-being. Your goal should be to be aware of your different roles and to evaluate whether you’re meeting those responsibilities in a satisfying way.
There’s no finality to this journey of work-life separation and balance whether working from home or at an office building. Life’s complexities require a constant reflection and revision of this life-long continuous process by each of us according to our, and society’s, changing needs.