The recent pandemic has brought along with it many new situations that we had to adapt to. And as the pandemic dragged along beyond a year we were forced to deal with the uncertain situations in unique and practical ways. One of the major changes that have occurred in the wake of this situation is the work-from-home culture. Industries and companies had to quickly adopt this approach as people were forced to be confined at homes with government regulations in place. As this followed, people could still keep their jobs and work while being confined to the comfort of their homes. While this pandemic situation is far from over, this work-from-home culture is here to stay. Companies are considering this work mode as conducive to cut costs on infrastructure expenses and travel allowances. Post pandemic many companies are considering completely shifting to the work from home model.
Though this work culture has its share of benefits like saving time on the commute, more time to spend with family, time flexibility, etc. it has brought along with it its set of challenges. With the time flexibility, people are also facing added pressure as there is no defined time of working. It becomes harder to switch off from work mode and thus we spend more time working than we would in an office. You may find yourself struggling to juggle work and family responsibilities as work and family times intersect making it hard to balance both.
As this scenario is going to be the new norm, we need new strategies to maintain a balance so that the work and home front run smoothly and you don't have to miss out on other aspects of life. Here are some ways in which you can manage your personal and professional life without compromising on the quality of either-
Dress up as if going to work
You can trick your mind to be more efficient working from home by dressing up. It tricks your brain into believing that you are working in an office setup and that you mean business. You will be more productive in formal attire than when you are slouching on a couch in your pajamas. It sets up your mood to work and brings the required dose of motivation that can sometimes be hard to achieve when you are working from the comfort of your home.
Set time boundaries and stick to them
It can be hard to establish time boundaries when you work from home as you may be expected to be available at all times. However, if you make yourself available round the clock it might become a norm and then you may find it hard to disconnect from work. This can lead to intrusion of work into family and other leisure time which is essential to living a balanced life.
Set a time for working and make your availability times known to the office team members. This way they know when to reach out to you and when not to, thus leaving you with the rest of your time for spending with family or on other leisure activities.
Set up a separate workspace
Defining a distinct work area that is meant only for working can help with minimizing distractions. You are less likely to be distracted working from a work desk than on a couch or dining table where you might be frequently interrupted. Choose a space where there are minimal distractions and you can work for some hours uninterrupted. It will save you from laziness and allow you to achieve regular work deadlines effectively, thus giving you more time to balance family roles.
Club break times with family time
At the office, you may have had a specific lunch break routine but as we started working from home, these distinctions have blurred. You might be often skipping lunch or eating at random timings due to work deadlines. Instead, try to set up a particular time for a lunch or dinner break as in the office and schedule those times to eat a meal with your family. That way even if you are working on tight deadlines you can catch on with some quality time with your family over mealtimes.
Apart from the meal times try to take mini-breaks where you can run small errands for the house which will give you a break from work and enable you to manage household chores effectively.
Automate as much as possible
As the lines between work and home chores blend, you might need to come up with unique ways to make things easier. One step is to automate small tasks that don't need too much of your time or attention but are essential to do. Set up reminders for grocery shopping or use the home delivery services. Switch to online grocery shopping or services that can handle such things for you. It will take a load off your shoulders and give you some spare time that you could use to spend time with family.
Communicate your needs with your family
Talk to your family about your work responsibilities and let them know your obligations. Since you are spending more time at home family might expect you to be accessible at all times. This new culture may not be easy to understand for them and talking about your work commitments will make them feel valued and can reduce the friction between work and family expectations. They could help you with feedback on how you could manage time better between work and family roles, helping run things easily on both fronts.
Cut down on activities that decrease your productivity
Working from home might mean you are constantly glued to your phone or laptop to avoid missing any updates. However, this can also lead to unnecessary time being spent checking emails or on social media that limits your productivity. Evaluate your schedule and identify the activities that eat up a lot of your time and could be killing your productivity. You can stick and limit to a particular time for checking emails or social media without it hampering your work or family time because these seemingly small activities take up a lot of our time without us knowing.
Work-life balance should be made a priority, especially in these tough times. It will help you be more productive and motivated to work and reduce stress. Achieving this balance is all about strategically prioritizing your time and responsibilities.
Set clear boundaries and communicate with both your family and office team members to coordinate things smoothly. Also do not forget to prioritize self-care as it might often get overlooked while juggling all these responsibilities. Prioritizing self-care will prevent burnout and can make you happier as you maintain your motivation levels while still wearing so many hats. It might not be always possible to maintain this balance but making it a priority will empower you to make choices that help you lead a more balanced and fulfilling life.