Are you struggling with the blurred line separating work and the rest of your life?
With this pandemic crawling forward and so many pushed into working from home situations, mental health and finding a way to break away from work becomes more imperative than ever. That mythical work to life balance grows even more fuzzy day by day as more organizations limit attendance or advise their team to get comfortable and settle into working from home permanently.
While I will often joke about how full my house is and how different it is working from home today than it was a year ago, please know that I'm keeping it together (most days) because I've had to create some structure in my schedule to save myself from a constant state of overwhelm.
These things have worked for me, and I would love to hear what's worked for you to add to this conversation!
#1 - The Morning Routine
After launching Blush Technology Group last summer, I found myself failing to accomplish some of my daily goals and procrastinating even the things that I like to do. I was super overwhelmed every day and knew I needed a change; however, I was unsure how to get there. Loving to read, I picked up Atomic Habits by James Clear and created the below morning routine one small habit at a time.
Get up earlier than everyone else in the house and do something you love!
This is now my quiet time, and when I can read without distraction or interference. This habit evolved into snagging a Kindle, so my phone notifications did not distract me while reading and pulling my attention away from my peaceful mornings. I do have alarms set on my phone to move onto the next step; however, it sits upside down and untouched to turn off the alarms.
Get dressed for success every day!
Much of my procrastination was based on feeling like I was not prepared to do a video or take a meeting because I was not put together. Now I get up and get ready as if I were going into a casual business office with my hair and makeup done to eliminate that excuse. As a bonus, I feel better about myself because I look good. I am still wearing my slippers, though. Shoes are an optional piece of the wardrobe!
Mark the start of your workday!
Folks have talked about creating a new style of commuting, either by walking around the block or dramatically opening the door to their office to "announce their presence." For me, it was opening the drapes, listening to music while I prioritized my day, and dancing around the house before logging in.
That was a bit harder to do with a house full of people, so I adapted to wearing noise-canceling headphones to blast the music and starting my day with a bit of freewriting to get my creative juices flowing before I open my email. Some days my writing leads to things like this, sometimes it's a rant about why chores didn't get done the night before, and sometimes it's the lyrics to the song I'm listening to that inspires me to be better today than I was yesterday.
Find something that fills your soul and helps you feel ready to conquer the day!
#2 – Take a REAL lunch break!
Remember those days where we would walk through the office and make plans to get out of there and grab lunch together? Yeah, I miss those too. Even when I was working from home pre-pandemic, my days were full of coffee meetings, lunch meetings, and customer visits. With those as limited options now, please at least take a real lunch break!
Plan what you will eat, take your plate outside, read a book, go to the gym, or take a walk. Anything other than taking bites between responding to emails or answering calls. Just take a break!
#3 – End the Day!
When you have accomplished all that you need to take care of today, walk away and shut it off. Literally, turn off your monitors, organize your desk, and walk away as you would from your office. Many of my friends used their drive home to decompress before walking into the house and if that was a positive experience for you, replicate it.
Put your headphones on and go for a walk (again), dramatically close the door to your office, go to the gym, or create an end of day ritual to move on to your time.
The end of my day is cooking dinner for my family. This gives my brain the downtime while my hands are busy to think through what I accomplished during the day and what I need to tackle for tomorrow.
While dinner is coming together, I decide the most important things I need to accomplish tomorrow and put them on a note on my phone for safekeeping. This is generally also done while blasting some tunes.
Recognizing that my experience is not for everyone, I encourage you to look at your day and analyze what you can control to find peace. Take some time to grieve over the life you once had as we continue to evolve through this pandemic, and know that you are not alone.
The rollover, log in to work, log out of work, roll back into bed routine is claiming the peace of so many folks right now. You do have the power to choose a different strategy and be happier every day.
If you've found something that works well for you, please mention it in the comments below so that we can help as many folks as possible by continuing this conversation.