Another Day in the Office? Tips for a work-life balance now WFH is here for the long haul
Let’s face it, WFH is here to stay. At least in some shape or form, anyway. What at first seemed like a quick fix looks like it might be around for the foreseeable, and despite a rather optimistic return to the office tentatively pencilled in last month, it seems a full return to normal is still a long way off.
As we move further away from the traditional 9-to-5, the boundaries between office and home are increasingly blurred. For many of us who found ourselves working from home back in March, thoughts have turned to rekindling that initial enthusiasm now fatigue has set in and a few bad habits have reared their head.
So, what makes a work-life balance, when both life and work happen under the same roof? When does working from home become living at work? If you’re still searching for peace amidst the chaos, then you’re in good company. With that in mind, here are our top tips for finding the perfect balance.
Keep Regular Work Hours
Remember routine? They were the days. When it comes to maintaining a balance, creating a schedule is as important as it gets. This sounds like obvious, but when deadlines stack up, it’s quickly forgotten.
Starting and finishing at a sensible time means your waking hours won’t all blur into one. But sticking to a routine can be tough. When things are thrown out of kilter, work on resetting the balance.
Working from home can often mean the freedom to work when suits you. This might not mean 9-to-5 for everybody, but the same rules apply. Work out what’s best for you and do what you can to stick to it.
Separate Work Time and Personal Time
Switching off isn’t always easy but resting and giving yourself something else to focus on is important. When work is over, close your laptop, leave your desk and turn off email notifications on your phone. If it’s not urgent, it can wait until the morning.
In the same way that you set your working hours, make a plan and schedule for your downtime too. Make time for you, even if it’s just relaxing on the sofa with your feet up.
Plan Your Workflow
Before you start work, write down a list of priorities. Plan how much time to allocate to each task and organise your day accordingly. If you’re up against the clock, negotiate a little more time where possible to allow tasks to be completed at a sensible pace.
Remember that concentration and energy levels come in waves. Plan your day around how you work best, doing the hardest or most urgent work when you have the most energy. You might even find it helpful to take a few minutes before you go to bed to plan for the next day.
Taking regular breaks away from your desk is known to boost productivity and does wonders for wellbeing too. Our minds can only focus for a certain amount of time, but a few minutes outside has the ability to restore not just energy but attention too.
It can be tempting to just stay in and eat lunch at your desk, but getting some fresh air, stretching your legs and taking a break from the screen helps keep you motivated. As well as helping you break up the day, a short walk will help you reset, get your blood flowing, and make sure you’re ready to tackle whatever the day throws at you.
Let There be Light
Home workers routinely underexpose themselves to daylight overexpose themselves to blue light from screens. Many of us work late into the evening and then find it impossible to sleep. Try make time for a few hours of daylight each day and let natural light work its endorphin-releasing, mood-regulating magic.
Tune into Inspiration
Working on your own terms offers a good chance to changes things up. This is your moment to turn up the volume on your favourite music to get yourself moving. Often, music can increase motivation and focus, aid memory and improve your mental and emotional wellbeing.
If you’re doing repetitive tasks, an audiobook or podcast may even be what you need to keep motivated. A few words from an entrepreneurial guru or specialist advice from a podcaster in your sector can really help inspire you to achieve.
Demand equality in the workplace
Lockdown has proven how traditional gender roles aren’t always compatible with working from home. Since March, it is mothers who have picked up the childcare and household responsibilities while dads have locked themselves away for a day of uninterrupted work.
This is a great time to question the unequal distribution of work and power at home. Old habits are the hardest to break, but if one person is carrying the larger household burden then it’s time to finally address the imbalance.
Think about your surroundings
Lastly, create a space that allows you to fully focus on work. With even more hours now spent in front of a screen and the boundaries between work and downtime blurring, it’s even more important to create a rewarding, energising environment. Productivity and positivity are known to thrive in calm and tidy environments. Get creative with a comfortable set-up and liven the space up with plants, photos and your favourite mug.
Since lockdown began, we’ve all been guilty of setting up on the sofa some mornings but having a space you enjoy working in can means you are likely to feel more alert, more confident, and more organised.
ABL Recruitment team
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