Work-life balance shifted when COVID disrupted the way we do business. Pew Research found that 20% of the workforce worked from home prior to COVID, in December 2020, that number was 71%, and 54% would like to continue working from home. That same survey showed that 50% of parents find it difficult to work from home without interruptions. And women have been disproportionately disadvantaged.
Working from home blurs the boundaries of finding a balance between the two. Studies show that workers are starting earlier and finishing work later, increasing their workday by almost an hour. What’s more is that 7 in 10 Americans do not believe they have a work-life balance since COVID.
Here are 5 work-life balance tips for employees to get their life back while still being productive at work.
- Track your time. Before you can start to create a balanced life, you need to know where your time is going. Keep a journal for one week. Write down everything you do that is work-related and everything that is personal. This will serve as your starting point. The log will show you where you’re wasting time and where the lines might blur in work-life balance. Find the spaces within your day.
- Set your priorities. Do some soul-searching to discover what is really important to you. List priorities for your work or career and for your life. Look at the time you have and ask yourself whether you’re putting your priorities first. At the end of each day do a quick priority check – did you stay on target? What changes do you need to make to align with your priorities?
- Establish clear boundaries. It’s so easy to get sidetracked by a text or email. Someone in the office reaches out to ask if you can quickly put together a few stats from last week’s meeting. You know it won’t take long to do it, so you do. You receive an email at 9:30 pm from a supervisor so you take the time to respond. Both of these are examples of unclear boundaries. Yes, it might be easy to put some stats together or answer an email, but if you do, you will be asked again. You will continue to receive emails at all hours because you, effectively, agreed to it! If you’re working remotely, setting work-hour boundaries will be very important. You don’t want your co-workers to think, “you’re working from home so it’s not like I’m really bothering you.”
- Use one calendar. I know, you’re thinking, what? But using just one calendar to book work-related and life-related events keeps you from overbooking. Use the calendar to fill in life-related events that are important to you, like doctor’s appointments and piano recitals. Then, as work things come up or need to be scheduled you can fit those into your calendar rather than fitting your calendar around them.
- Ask for flex-time. Sometimes the solution to finding a better balance between work and home is simply a shift in when you work. Companies have started to realize that offering flex-time leads to better, more loyal employees.
Here’s a bonus tip to strike a work-life balance for employees working from home. Designate work-free zones. You can go all out and build an office off your kitchen with a locking door where no work product is allowed to leave, but there other ways. Use imaginary “fences” to keep work out of the living room or off the kitchen table. Create a space you have to go to for work. That prevents work from spilling into your living space and, by extension, your life.
Whether you work from home or an office, take some time each day to unplug. Taking just a few minutes each day will leave you feeling more energized.
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