For most people, finding the balance between work, family and personal life seems like an impossible goal especially while some of us are working from home. You juggle heavy workloads while taking care of your family, your house, the dog and dealing with the stress of the pandemic. As well as those who do have to go into work that deal with heavy workloads while trying to maintain relationships and family responsibilities and become stressed out. Those who strive to give their all at work tend to find themselves struggling to achieve a good work-life balance. Studies show that a poor work-life balance can result in unhealthy levels of stress, unhappiness, and even reduced productivity. So how can you achieve a healthy work-life balance?
Going into work
Traditionally we have always gone into work. Though many people work from home, there are plenty of people still going in and working hard everyday. They are fortunate enough to be able to have those wonderful social interactions, and relationships with coworkers, and also being able to separate work from home. People who are still going into work also struggle with work-life balance. Work tends to follow you home no matter where you work, and it is still important to take the time to unwind. Here are some helpful tips to create a healthier balance between work and life.
According to theladders.com, “Twenty-seven percent of millennials said that stress often bothered them at work, compared to the 12% of baby boomers that said the same.” Studies have shown that people who stay connected after work hours experience elevated cortisol levels and higher levels of stress. In order to reduce work-related stress, especially from a poor work-life balance, you should determine when you will be connected and when you will unplug. This will guarantee a good work-life balance because it forces you to stop responding to emails or calls during family and personal time.
Prioritize Your Tasks
The goal is to focus most of your time on the most important projects. There will always be an abundance of less important tasks to do which can take up most of your day. In the event that you find yourself overwhelmed with work or feel as though you don’t have enough time to get everything done, organize your tasks from most to least important. Here is a good resource for organizing your task to ensure each workday is structured and efficient.
Set and Stick to Your Work Hours
In a study conducted by the OECD Better Life Index, calculated that “ In the United States, some 11% of employees work very long hours,” which is less than the Canadas average of 4%. As you spend more time at work, you take away time from family and personal time. A great way to prevent this from happening is to figure out a schedule that allows you to meet the demands of work and life. The goal is to mold your work hours around your personal life whether or not your to-do list is complete.
Working from home
In response to the quick spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies, organizations, and institutions encouraged their employees to begin working remotely in order to feel safer and remain healthy. Though working from home might seem amazing for some people, it can come with some negative elements, like social isolation, extended hours of screen exposure, and above all blurred work-life balance. A blurred work-life balance can make it difficult to unwind and mentally clock out of work like you would do if you were to leave your office. This can also lead to stress and anxiety. Another concern when it comes to blurred work-life balance is balancing work and family since there might be chores, or errands you have to run in between work meetings. Quiet hours become limited in situations where family is also in the house, so parents and adults might sacrifice their sleep hours by working late or waking up early so they can concentrate on work without interruptions which can leave them exhausted.
There are also many positive elements that come from working from home, and ways to make working from home more enjoyable and give you that balance you may be looking for. One positive element is that working from home can allow employees to be less distracted by employees, especially if they have an open plan office. Working from home can also allow you to focus on organizing an individualized approach to your work-life balance which can benefit you both physically and mentally. Additionally you are able to feel more comfortable in the environment you choose. Usually your environment you work in is set by your employers, when you work from home you have full control over your work space. Workers may have more control of environmental factors when WFH; indoor environmental quality (IEQ) factors (eg, lighting, temperature, humidity, air quality, noise, ergonomics, etc) Having better IEQ conditions is better than a fixed cubicle or open work office space.
Tips on how to achieve a work-life balance
Finding a work-life balance is crucial with working from home. It is very easy to forget boundaries you must set in place so you’re able to have success in both work and life. Here are some tips to help manage a better work-life balance:
Keep your work and home life as separate as possible. Usually the separation from work and home is physical because you used to leave the office, you want to recreate that as much as you can at home as well. Your work space can be in a home office, or just simply a desk in your room. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it does have to be a designated space where you work and should feel separate from your home as much as possible.
This might seem like a simple tip but it makes a big difference. It might be tempting to stay in pajamas but this can lead to laziness, be less productive and less focused on work. Unless you are in important business meetings you don’t have to dress as formally as you would for work, but just changing and getting ready for your work day could help shift your mind and allow you to feel more ready to take on the day.
Define your work hours
Be clear on when you are working and when you are not. Being on the same schedule as your coworker, and sticking to your regular hours can help you work your best and can be easier to collaborate with coworkers as needed. If you live with roommates or family, clearly stating your work hours can establish necessary boundaries and cut down distractions during the day. It also lets you disconnect when the workday is over and spend time with family, friends, or loved ones.
Build transitions in and out of work
Traveling to and from work allows you to physically leave your work space, or home but also mentally prepares you to start work or when you get home separate yourself from work. While working at home you lose that sense of when work ends and when home life starts so it’s important to create that routine to get your mind and body away from work-life. Do something like listen to music, if that’s what you did on your commute home from work, or read a book. Do something that signals you that work is over and help you better transition yourself out of work.
When working from home you lose those small social interactions you would usually have during your work day. Social interactions are a huge part of staying mentally healthy. To achieve more social interactions, talk to your coworkers through Zoom, Slack, call, text, or however your company communicates If you usually discuss things like how your weekend was, or your new favorite restaurant, keep doing that and fueling that interaction.
These are only some ways to achieve a good work-life balance. When working from home it is important to consider all aspects. Our Vice President of Human Resources and Talent Management, Unanda Bell, mentions, “ At Spring Hills Senior Communities, we understand the importance of a good work-life balance and how it can affect our employees’ health. We encourage that all of our work environments prioritize a good work-life balance to reduce stress and prevent burnout within the workplace.” At Spring Hills, we are glad to provide an environment that our staff feels safe in as well as enjoys coming to.