Well, there’s a title I never expected to write. But here we are, in the middle of a global crisis, and you are likely dealing with change on macro and micro levels. And if you’re like most people, working from home is one of these changes - but whether it feels minor or major likely depends on your ability to balance your personal and professional life.
There are a lot of factors that weigh into work-life balance, but to start, try asking yourself these questions - and giving some honest answers.
Are you clocking the same number of hours you normally would?
No more commute, no more distractions - it should be easy to finish work earlier than you normally would at the office, with extra time to spare for your family, your hobbies, and your sleep schedule. But this week, keep track of your actual hours - are you just filling in that spare time with more work? And, are you even working during that extra time - or just sitting behind the computer screen and distractedly reading the latest coronavirus updates? Your brain needs a break from work and from bad news. Mindfully limit your screen time and you’ll actually start to feel the benefits of working from home.
Are you doing something you love for at least an hour every day?
Once work is finished, how are you disengaging? If you stay in the same location as your “home office” and simply stream the latest Netflix, you may end up feeling more stressed than ever. You need to disconnect both mentally and physically. If watching television brings you joy, then go for it - but at least do it in a different room than where you work. If you find yourself just zoning out with TV without finding much joy in it, though, I’d encourage you to branch out - spring is here, and going for walks is one of the few things you’re still encouraged to do outside.
Do you have someone you can chat with about all these changes?
Adjusting to a work-from-home lifestyle is a relatively minor change compared to this pandemic on a whole. But that doesn’t mean it’s not affecting your mental health or adding real stress to your life. These kinds of lifestyle shifts are often associated with feelings of anxiety, depression, and frustration. Even if you think you are adjusting well, schedule some time to talk with a good friend, a coworker, or a close peer. Tell them about the changes you’ve been adjusting to. Even if you don’t think you need to talk, who knows, you may be helping that other person by reaching out.
For better or worse, you have extra time on your hands at home now. Make the best of this strange, uncertain time and find a balance between work and life. Otherwise, before too long, you’ll be back at the office wishing you embraced this time more mindfully.