Working remotely comes with enormous freedom, but we need to be intentional about maintaining work-life balance.
With the start of the pandemic, most of us found ourselves working from home whether we liked it or not. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn to thrive there. With the world, and our offices, opening up again, many of us may decide to maintain the freedoms of remote work long-term in some way or another. That means developing a more sustainable approach to work-life balance.
There’s plenty of advice out there on the internet on how to balance work and home life, and most of it amounts to a set of principles that might work for some but not for others. At UpTeam, we know that everyone has their own rhythm. One-size-fits-all approaches often don’t make the cut. It’s is why we’re encouraging remote workers to use this time to get to know themselves better.
It’s not unusual to feel like you are floundering when boundaries between work and life start to blur. When that happens, we often need to set up structures to prevent one part of our day from spilling into the other. Or maybe you are of those who thrive with a more integrated life and are able to jump from one “mode” to another with ease. No one approach is better than the other, we just need to know how we operate and what options we have.
We at UpTeam don’t have any “top rules” for you to follow. What we have done is put together a few questions to ask yourself when figuring out what rhythm works best for you.
How To Spend Your Time
Some of us are able to roll out of bed and hit the ground running – others need time and space to prepare for the day. While ditching the morning commute is one of the great benefits of remote work, the danger remains that, once we start working at home, it’ll be hard to stop.
If you need boundaries between your “on” and “off” time, try to create some kind of barrier between them. Maybe that means starting and ending at a specific hour, or maybe that means taking a 20 minute walk around the neighbourhood listening to a favorite podcast to recreate a ‘commute’ and get into the zone. Even if you’re good to go from the start, creating some kind of concrete transition ritual (drinking coffee, listening to death metal, whatever works) can get your brain into work-mode faster – and, if you have a transition ritual out of your work time, it might help you relax easier.
Another huge question is about rhythm. Do you work better in large chunks? Then take large chunks. Do you like quick spurts? Then set your pomodoro clock or take a long siesta in the afternoon. Then there’s the question of consistency – some need to have a daily rhythm to keep them accountable, while others find a weekly rhythm more freeing.
It’s not that often that we have the opportunity to figure out our relationship to our time. Use it.
Shape Your Space
There are plenty of questions to ask yourself when setting up your optimal work space – the first being: how many spaces are optimal?
Many remote workers have extolled the benefits of having different areas at home that they can switch between. While not all of us have the luxury of having large homes, there are plenty of ways to recreate this effect: only working from specific areas (the kitchen table, the patio), not taking work to bed and so on.
You’ll have to decide what your style will be when it comes to mixing work and life, though. Are you going to eat while you work, or are you going to keep these activities in different spaces? Will you get “in the game” by having specific tasks associated with different areas of your home, or are you less distracted by doing everything in one place?
For some, loosening COVID-19 restrictions also provides the opportunity to work remotely outside the home from cafes or patios with wifi. Get to know your tolerance for movement and noise to figure out if this is an option that works for you. For many of us, getting in that extra bit of stimulation (and time among people) helps make our workday richer and adds to our sense of balance.
You Do You
There is no one way to achieve work-life balance, but knowing what questions to ask yourself is the first step to empowering your day. Play to your strengths and figure out what works for you. Remember that sometimes a rhythm feels good for a while and then you’ll have to find a new one – don’t beat yourself up if you don’t fit into yesterday’s shoes. The pandemic is a time when we’re realizing we need to be kind to ourselves and listen to what we need.
And last of all: be creative, and make it fun.