With the pandemic still raging, many office workers are now working from home. I, for example, have been working from home since March.
With no physical boundary between home and work these days, it becomes more important than ever to talk about how to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Here are some tips on how you can achieve a good balance.
Carving out a separate space
Carving out a separate space designated only for work is a great solution to create that physical boundary within your home. If you are fortunate enough to already have a study in your house or apartment, then I recommend that you make full use of it for work.
Here are some alternatives if you don’t have a study in your home.
Use the guest room
Because of social distancing measures, chances are you are probably not using the guest room as much.
Why not convert the room temporarily into your study?
Use the basement
If you have a basement that is typically empty, now may be the time to put it into good use.
The basement is an especially good place to work because it is a short distance away from places where main home activities happen.
This naturally creates a boundary between working and living.
Use a room different from your main area of relaxation
If you live in a small space with no spare room or basement, then you may want to work in a room that is different from your main area of relaxation.
For example, if you typically relax in your bedroom, then I recommend you work in the living or dining room.
Although it is not the ideal situation, it at least gives you a bit of a separation from your main area of relaxation.
Change the setup of the room
If you, like me, live in a bachelor’s apartment with very limited space, then none of the above can apply. How should you cope?
I find changing the setup of the room helps with creating a somewhat different space that makes me feel like I am working. For example, I only have one desk, so I turn my desk 180 degrees to face the window during work hours.
After work, I turn my desk back, so it feels like home again.
Put away all work-related items after work
When you are done working for the day, putting away all work-related items helps you transition from working to living.
As people say, out of sight, out of mind. Putting away my work laptop and notebooks has now become an evening ritual that triggers my brain to relax.
After all, you still deserve some time to enjoy the little things in life that does not involve work.
Set clear boundaries
All your co-workers know that you are working from home and not going anywhere. However, just because you are technically available for all the virtual meetings doesn’t mean that you should be working 24/7.
Setting clear boundaries for yourself is critically important to make sure that you can fully unplug at the end of the day.
If possible, log off from your work laptop and turn off your work phone at a time that you are comfortable with. If you don’t have a work phone, log off from all the work-related apps that you may have installed on your phone.
The emails you receive at 11 pm can most likely wait till the next morning to respond to.
Focus on tasks that matter
You may have a long to-do list. Therefore, it is important to zoom in on tasks that will make the most impact.
It helps to categorize the tasks into four buckets:
- Urgent and important
- Important but not urgent
- Urgent but not important
- Not urgent and not important
Focus your energy on the first bucket, and don’t waste your time on the last one. This way, you can improve your return on investment (ROI) of your time.
I hope the strategies above can help you as you navigate through the pandemic.