They don’t say ‘practice makes perfect’ for nothing…
As ying & yang teach us, there is a philosophy of balance.
In an uncertain time where everyone has been subject to their general routine shifting out of array, finding balance and staying connected to not only our colleagues, but our close ones, is a strenuous task. Depending on whether you are full time WFH or flexi working, the new normal consists of setting up a full or part time bedroom office, creating workspaces online, maintaining etiquette over Zoom, and generally living in a higher state of anxiety.
When the office was open 5 days a week, balance seemed easier to maintain, we had routine, and when we left the office, work was (generally) done. WFH or jumping on the northern line for just 3 days a week is a different kettle of fish. Waking up and automatically picking up our phones to keep on top of emails seems to be the new morning ritual. We have a tendency when working from home to feel as though we don’t actually stop working, especially when we don’t have human communication integrated into our everyday life. This, my friends, can create burn-out.
Did we assume that working from home full time or a couple of days a week would create more of a work-life balance?
It might have started out sounding like a bonus, but as we have discovered, in reality, it’s not that fun. Routine has most certainly become harder to implement. That being said, there are ways to improve this bizarre way of living, but it takes practice.
Here are some micro tips which will create a macro impact on that work-life balance, and help you to maintain those vital, meaningful connections. From creating a remote work schedule to fit around your office schedule, to finding new healthy habits, read on to access tools to help you contribute to your general wellbeing.
1. Non-work Routine
Having a routine which isn't based around your work is incredibly important for creating boundaries. Be conscious of mixing healthy activities into your day so you don’t feel like work is controlling your life. This can include things like morning meditation, coffee breaks, and yoga. It is also important to plan post-workday day activities to release some steam and remind yourself that you have a life. And of course don’t forget - sleep. Better and well-scheduled sleep leads to higher levels of creativity and focus - your brain struggles to function on less than 7 hours. Stick to a bedtime to maximise your sleep quality.
2. NO EMAILS (and maybe socials) IN BED
This is a hard one to keep to, especially if you're naturally inclined to check your socials first thing in the morning & last thing at night (we also don’t recommend this). Work emails in particular should be left at your designated home office space.
Which leads us to the next point…
3. Designated Workspace
If possible, when WFH, keep your workspace outside of your home space, particularly, your bedroom. And never conduct meetings in your bedroom - *check your boundaries*
. Your home office should be strictly a place for work, which means that you should ideally keep away from that space outside of work hours, (especially weekends) to create a mental separation.
4. Sit near a window
Any window is better than no window - we need natural light - but a window with a view of nature, that’s the real winner. If you don’t have that luxury then it may be worth investing in a piece of scenic art as having a view of nature of any kind has the ability to increase direct attention ie, focus, reduce blood pressure and reduce the release of stress hormones. We are primal beings - we still need the wilderness.
5. Work Schedule
Planning is key for easier implementation. Set your intentions for the day and write them down - this will help you stick to your goals. Write to-do lists and use tech based planning tools such as calendars and reminders. It may help to structure your work based on whether you’re an early bird or a night owl. You should aim to do the most strenuous/important tasks when you’re at your most energised state, then slot the less important/menial tasks around that. Remember that breaks are necessary - when you skip breaks it’s actually counterproductive as you will lose your ability to focus. You can often come back to work with a fresh perspective after a few minutes of detaching from it. This also applies to working too late. If you are working longer hours than usual to maintain your workload, you will lose focus and slow down. It’s a much better idea to come back tomorrow after a restful sleep to tackle your tasks with a fresh head. Shut off at the same time everyday.
6. Take the meeting
Okay, so you ‘just survived another meeting that could have been an email’ - a joke that started circa’20 at the beginning of the pandemic, but perhaps it was never entirely a bad thing. Constant meetings may be perceived as one of the bugbears of an online workspace but human connection is necessary and when working from home, Zoom deserves its merit. Aside from the obvious, having ‘eye-contact’ is an important feature for motivation - don’t complain about/avoid the meeting that could have been an email because it may be saving your mental health.
7. Get dressed
Lockdown has brought loungewear to the forefront of fast-fashion and we are not mad about it. *Disclaimer* - we most certaining don’t advocate fast-fashion. But when was the last time you got dressed for work? (I write this on day 3 in my trusty grey sweatpants.) Psychologists recommend that you should always get dressed for work, even in your home office. This reminds you that work and home life are separate - it helps put your brain in work/relax mode. (I’m whacking on the tux as we speak.)
Make time for the things you enjoy - this is crucial. Work-life should never disrupt you from finding & exploring things that you’re interested in, where you can be creative. Be curious and try learning something new outside of work. If you can find group activities, even better.
Exercise gives you a regular dose of serotonin and endorphins, but guess what, it also improves your work by boosting energy levels! Even low-intensity exercise can help you stick to your to-do list. Keep up your movement regime throughout the week but perhaps try a group sport on the weekends.
We can’t say it enough…make conscious decisions to eat foods which have the ability to increase your concentration, alertness, and memory. Try and incorporate foods such as dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, and eggs. We know the struggle is real but it really is best to reduce the consumption of refined carbs, processed foods, sugary drinks, and yep - alcohol.
11. Call your loved ones
If you can’t see your loved ones face to face, be sure to check in on them, and let them check in on you
. Sometimes a reminder of love can get you through the toughest of times - mushy, but true.
Implementing these simple tips into your daily routine will give you the freedom to create a better work-life balance whilst having time for those vital connections, and that’s all we can truly ask for.
As always, we wish you the best, and hope that this information will bring you a little closer to an improved, healthier and happier version of yourself.
POW Team x