The pandemic may have forever changed our expectations about how, where and how much we work. The lines were blurred between work time and home time, and we continue to struggle with these conflicting demands.
Those who are moving into some new form of flexible hours, or the freelance/gig economy, may love their new freedom from rigid scheduling, but have probably already noticed that their work is taking over more of their lives than ever before.
It’s time to get your life back in balance! Start with these tips for keeping work in its rightful place.
Don’t say yes to everything.
Only accept as much work as you can handle in a reasonable workday. If you’re answering to a supervisor, tell them up front that you can’t make that deadline; it’s better than waiting until the last day when it’s too late for them to make other arrangements.
The same goes for taking business calls at all hours. Send them to voicemail and deal with them when you’re back in the “office,” just as you did when you were working onsite. This isn’t shirking — it’s providing the same level of service as the in old days.
Make a realistic schedule.
Set your work hours in stone; what those hours are will vary for each person. A parent may need a block of family time in the afternoon for homeschooling kids, then have a block of work time at night after the kids are in bed. A single person may prefer to work in the day and have evenings free for socializing.
Prioritize your activities.
There are many ways to do this: ranking tasks from most to least urgent, or from the projects that take the most time to the least, or doing the most unpleasant one first to get it over with. You decide what works best for you.
Be sure to include family time, social time and “me” time (for exercise, hobbies, relaxation) every day. This is the essence of work/life balance; don’t put them off because they are “less important” than work commitments.
Make home life workable.
We’ve already talked about not allowing yourself to be overloaded at work. Your home and social life will need the same treatment. Explain what the new expectations will be to family and friends, whether it’s that children can’t interrupt Mom/Dad during morning work hours, or that household chores will be shared out more equally among everyone.
These tips may require you to do some thinking about how much time you spend on each part of your life, maybe even weeding out the things that add little value. But in the end, you’ll have a system that lets you maintain a fruitful career as well as a healthy lifestyle.