We are living in extraordinary times. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of the world has changed.
Everything we considered “normal” has shifted, and for the most part, everyone’s life has been disrupted and turned upside down.
During these times of change, it can be difficult to cope, especially when trying to balance so many elements of your life such as work, family life, and social needs.
For the most part, these elements may have been separate in your life before this situation or were easier to segregate from each other. Now, on the other hand, they are on a collision course with each other.
For those of us that are blessed to have a job that lets us work from home, maintaining that same level of productivity while retaining your sanity and balancing the day-to-day challenges of your home life (for those who have families) can seem extremely daunting.
In this article, I will share a few techniques that I have employed in my own life to retain my sanity, achieve productivity, and preserve my work-life balance.
1. Create a routine
Getting yourself into a routine can be a good way to keep yourself in line. It lets you focus on what you need to get done, letting you get used to it through repetitive activities.
Routines may not work for everyone, but I found they help me keep things in order. I’ve discovered that when you settle into a routine, you can build new habits — hopefully, good habits that keep your thoughts straight.
You can start by having a regular morning routine. For me, it is spending time with my family first thing in the morning. I also make it a point to do the same immediately after I end my workday.
This family time is more meaningful to me now, especially since I no longer have to commute one hour to the office and one hour home. Having this daily routine helps keep me grounded and allows me to maintain my work-life balance better.
However, I do feel that it would be beneficial if you vary your routine to spice things up a bit since a routine has the potential to get boring. Keeping things interesting but regular will allow you to have that focus, but not get too stuck in day-to-day boredom.
2. Set clear achievable goals
I have found that setting daily goals for myself has helped me with my daily priorities. However, my goals have expanded from primarily work-related goals, and now include family and social goals too.
Aside from setting work goals and prioritizing them throughout my day, I set personal goals (such as connecting with colleagues and friends that I usually don’t get a chance to connect with, due to physical separation); or set goals to complete home projects, (such as cleaning out the garage by the end of the week or weeding the lawn).
Keep your goals small and in manageable chunks and organize them by priority. This is important to avoid running the risk of overwhelming yourself.
3. Set expectations at home about your schedule
If you are not alone in your household, like me, it’s best to set expectations with those at home as to when the appropriate times to interact are.
For me, my first week home was slightly crazy. My family was not accustomed to our different schedules.
So my work would get disrupted often. Sitting down with my family and establishing some ground rules helped fix these issues. These include things like a ‘do not disturb’ sign outside my door or specifying specific timings during which I can’t be disturbed.
Having such ground rules and setting expectations with my family makes it easier to focus and maintain productivity, while also letting me connect with my family.
4. Maintain your relationships
Human interaction is a great way to maintain our sanity. It lets us detach mentally from our day-to-day obligations and helps us connect with others, making it easier to disconnect from work.
The need to be physically distant means that we need to make an extra effort to preserve ties with friends, family, and colleagues at pre-pandemic levels.
To do so, we can leverage technology to make distances shorter and overcome some of the gaps caused by not being able to interact with each other in person.
Video chat apps such as Zoom Meetings and Google Meet are excellent for large online gatherings. Apps like Facetime and WhatsApp video are great for those intimate one-to-one or small group interactions.
5. Try to step outdoors (while maintaining social distancing)
Try your best not to be stuck inside all the time. Take advantage of the outdoors, of course, while respecting social distancing with other people.
I try to get out of the house at least once a day, during the daytime.
Being outdoors lets you get that vitamin D and also get some physical activity in.
Getting out of the house, even for just a simple walk around the block can do a lot to lift your spirits and improve your overall mood.
Unfortunately, we don’t know how long this pandemic will last, and we don’t know if we will ever go back to what we used to consider “normal”. Whatever becomes the “new” normal will be leaps and bounds different from what we were comfortable with before, so we should give some serious thought to the coping strategies we employ in our lives. The future can be scary, but it can also be manageable.
Take care and stay safe.
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Author — Francis Roque, DLT Labs™
About the Author: Francis is a seasoned Senior Business Analyst whose experiences span Fintech, Financial Regulation, Human Resources, Telecom, Consulting, Managed Services, and now Freighttech and Distributed Ledger technology.