For many people, work has infringed on their personal life. Working from home during the pandemic made it worse, but you can take action and restore better balance.
Chances are, you’ve said the following (or something similar) in recent months: “I need to prepare for tomorrow’s big meeting, then I’ll start dinner.” Or, “Can you put the kids to bed while I finish this assignment?“ Or, “I’ll answer one more email before calling it a night.”
A clear divide between work and personal life rarely exists now. You often hear about people being under constant stress and burning out. Maybe you’re in the same situation. Here are four reasons why we’re working more and enjoying less downtime:
- Instead of having much-needed “downtime” during the daily commute and at lunch or other breaks, people working remotely have filled that time with even more work.
- At the office, it’s easy to chat quickly about work issues. Now those chats have been replaced by an incessant string of emails and virtual meetings that are a drain on people’s time. Also, to keep everyone “in the loop,” more people are being copied in on emails and invited to meetings.
- Technology enhancements mean many employees now have company laptops/cellphones, remote access to company systems, etc., making it too easy to stay connected and work more from home.
- Increased business competition and streamlined staff to manage employer costs may cause many employees to have too much work on their plate, and precious little time to do it.
Protect your health
If it sounds like work is becoming unmanageable, you’re right, and there’s a price to pay for this growing imbalance in life. Overworking and being under constant pressure to juggle your job, family and health may cause a number of risks to surface. Here are some of the common risks:
- Sitting too long, hunched over a computer, may cause poor circulation, neck and shoulder discomfort, a sore back, elbow/wrist/finger pain, and eyestrain.
- The more you work, the less time you have for exercise and eating right, putting you at greater risk for medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, etc.
- Not devoting enough time to the restorative aspects of sleep, relaxation, hobbies and family can have negative consequences on your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
- When you stress your mind and body for extended periods, you become less productive at work and more prone to making mistakes. It’s difficult to focus intensely for hours on end, day after day.
Tips for better work-life balance:
In today’s exceptionally challenging environment, just about everyone can do a better job of taking care of themselves and avoiding burnout. The following tips will help you establish clearer boundaries by unblurring the lines between work and personal life:
- Dedicate a workspace. Create a spot at home that’s used only for work and allows you to efficiently access everything you need. Remember to have a comfortable chair, desk, and lighting. It also helps to keep your workspace organized and decluttered.
- Set your routine. Devote enough time each day for all that’s important in your life, such as working, exercising, eating right, family time, etc. Don’t forget that setting your routine is only half of the equation. Sticking to this routine is the other half – and likely more difficult.
- Have “me time.” Self-care is crucial when trying to keep boundaries between work and your personal life. With many demands on you throughout the day, take the time to look after yourself. Socializing with friends, indulging in your favourite shows, pursuing hobbies, curling up with a great book or relaxing with a warm bath may represent some of the activities to prioritize.
- Communicate openly and regularly. If you’re overwhelmed at work or unable to complete tasks at home, discuss the situation with your boss, colleagues, team and family. People might be more understanding than you think, and may be willing to reduce your workload, reprioritize tasks, pitch in more, offer emotional support, etc.
- Take your days. Even before the pandemic, many people did not take all their allotted vacation days. Now, burdened by extra work and concerns – and being less eager or able to travel and pursue certain leisure activities – workers are foregoing even more vacation days. When possible, use all of your vacation time. If you’re sick or simply overwhelmed and stressed out, use your sick days as well. Everyone deserves to be happy and healthy!