Work Life Balance Amid the Coronavirus
They say not to bring your work home with you. Keep work at work and keep home at home, but how do you do that right now? You have been thrown into working from home. Schools are cancelled. Events are cancelled. Businesses are failing. It feels like every day you are scrambling through chaos for some semblance of order. Right now, your mental health is arguably more important than ever. But how do you balance work and home when work has come home and home has become work? Your company may be on the verge of failing. Your family may need all of your attention. How do you choose what to prioritize? When does the workday start or end and when does “at home” time begin?
While this may not be as clear as it was a few months ago, it’s still possible to create a balance that helps with your work, your home life, and your sanity. This first step is to acknowledge that these are uncharted waters. We are living in an unprecedented time. There is no roadmap to supporting your business in a critical time while supporting your family in a critical time. We used to think answering a few emails at home was working at home, but now you have the whole day at home with your family and all of the distractions that that brings. Are we expecting too much from people who are told to work from home right now? Absolutely. Is there an alternative at the moment? Probably not.
Balance can be segmented into any portion of your day. In a previous world, we had a large chunk of allocated work hours and a large portion of allocated home time. This doesn’t look the same anymore. To begin now, you’ll need to take a hard look at your priorities and tasks in any given day. What needs to be completed, what can wait, what needs your attention today? If you have children home with you during the day, that might mean scheduling much smaller intervals of time for work and for family. You can get up early in the morning to check your email and get your workday prioritized. Then schedule times that you can be fully present with your children and times that you need to be fully present with your work. A big component of this new type of balance will be letting go of what that balanced looked like before. You’re going to have to start the day with one hat, switch to the other, switch back to the first, and so on. Give yourself a routine that you can stick to during the day.
This type of balance will probably mean later nights and earlier mornings for the foreseeable future. This makes it all the more important for you to give yourself an hour or two a day to be yourself. Watch TV, talk with your partner, work out, etc. Yes, schedule in time for no scheduling at all.
Utilize your weekends. Dedicating one weekend day to family only and one weekend day to fitting in work projects where you can, will help to lift the load off of the rest of your week. Your family may be missing you in some moments that they’re used to having you, but they’ll be gaining you in other places where you would have been at work or they would have been at school. This new balance will really stress that it’s the quality of time you’re spending and not the quantity of time, that matters. When it’s family time, be fully present. Even if that’s only for 30 minutes at a time. When it’s time to work, be fully present in that work. Even if that’s only for 30 minutes at a time.
The last thing to consider is that, during this unique time, we’re all experiencing the same thing. This same chaos to our schedules. This same burn out. This same constant feeling of putting out fire after fire. It’s happening to all of us simultaneously. Remember to have patience with your coworkers, your boss, your clients, and your families.
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