Do I work to live, or do I live to work?
The transition into remote or hybrid work has become the norm, and more and more people have been asking themselves this question. As the lines between our professional and personal lives get more blurred, finding the desired balance can feel like a Sisyphean task.
Letting yourself get swayed by the stress of everyday work life can trigger many negative emotions, from anxiety to apathy. In mild cases, it can cost you a missed happy hour with your friends, in worse cases, it can lead to serious burnout – a condition that 75% of all workers have experienced.
In today’s busy times, finding the right work-life balance takes conscious effort. Here are some tips to help you along the way.
Redefine what work means to you
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything – including the way we work and interact. While remote work is not necessarily a new concept, it exploded massively over the past year. Millions of people switched to work-from-home overnight, and while corporate training focused on using Slack and Zoom, there was little conversation about the effects this rapid transition could have on our mental health and overall wellbeing.
In fact, 65% of people admit that in the remote/hybrid setting, they’re working longer. In specific numbers, the average workday lengthened by 48.5 minutes following stay-at-home orders and lockdowns.
When in an office, you sign off at the end of the day, pack your back, and leave the workspace behind. This physical disconnection makes it easier for the mind to disconnect as well. When at home, drawing a clear line suddenly becomes difficult; there’s not always a finite end to your workday. This is partly because there’s less incentive to stop working – it’s not like you have to go home!
If we’re living a new normal, it’s key to redefine the rules as well. Often, this will take conscious effort. Try to find the distinction between work and leisure and make reasons to stop working. For example, join different hobby groups or sign up for classes that happen after work so that you have a “why” when signing out. Making commitments to meeting friends and relatives also works – and trust us, it will be incredibly rewarding!
Optimize your workday
Let’s bust a common myth: Our effectiveness at work doesn’t come from the number of hours we spend working or the number of meetings we have every week. Rather, it’s the quality of our lives and the results of our continuous efforts.
To feel more effective and less stressed, progressing with your tasks at a steady pace is key. However, we are not suggesting you should become a crazy work machine; rather, practice saying no, cut out dead-end and legacy meetings and ditch the urge to always be available to others.
Optimize your workday by setting clear boundaries. It may be uncomfortable at first, we know, but it’s necessary. 67% of people working remotely feel pressure to be available at all hours of the day – to resist that, experiment with statuses on instant messaging platforms, only check your email inbox on a few occasions every day, and rethink answering non-urgent messages outside your work hours.
Take care of yourself
Let’s get another thing off the table: Avoiding burnout is often easier than bouncing back from it. That’s why preventing it by taking care of yourself first is key. Yes, your job is important but so is your mental health. No matter how busy you get, try to find time for things that make you truly happy and to enjoy meaningful interactions – be it your partner, your family, or friends.
Likewise, a healthy lifestyle will make you way more apt to cope with stress and achieve a better work-life balance. Eat well, incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, and get enough sleep – ideally at least 7 hours.
Remember that even if your schedule gets hectic, you are in control of your time. It may take commitment to stop working at 5 pm every Monday to go to that yoga class, but it’s these things exactly that make a massive difference and contribute to your overall well-being.
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