It’s been a year since the start of the pandemic, and we’re still experiencing sporadic lockdowns, social distancing and – for many of us – working from home. While switching to remote work has been beneficial and rewarding for some, others continue to struggle to maintain a healthy work-home life balance. With no commute to physically separate the hours, it’s challenging to set firm “start” and “stop” times. Plus, being constantly connected makes it hard to resist work when we should be focusing on our personal lives and families.
The good news is, there are some strategies you can put in place to work toward achieving better balance. These tips will help you to stay productive and focused while also prioritizing your physical and mental well-being.
1. Embrace healthy eating
Over the past year, who hasn’t turned to comfort food to cope with challenges of our changing world? In fact, some of us are still trying to shed the “quarantine 15” that resulted from upset eating patterns in 2020.
Luckily, shifting back to healthy eating is one of the best (and easiest) ways to care for yourself and provide your body with the boost it needs to get through long work days.
A great way to get started is to research nutritious meal plans. Mapping out healthy meals filled fresh, nutrient-dense whole foods will help get you on the right track toward healthier eating. This will not only help boost physical health, but your mental well-being (including your ability to focus) will improve, too. Once you have an idea of what you want to eat for the week, try meal prepping to get everything in order ahead of time.
Another bonus to home cooking is that it’s a great hobby, and it can help prevent urges to stay glued to your computer after work hours have ended. At quitting time, move into the kitchen and start to prepare a wholesome dinner. Or, if you find yourself bored staying home on weekends, cook or bake! You’ll learn new skills, squeeze in some stress relief and have delicious dishes to enjoy for days.
2. Create separation with an all-in-one workstation
Working from home can feel invasive, with your professional and personal life constantly overlapping. You may not be able to step away from work entirely, but you can put it to one side. For example, designate a room in your home to be “the office,” and when you’re not working, shut the door. Don’t let work creep into other areas of your home!
If you don’t have the luxury of an extra room to use as an office, designate a specific space for work – and keep it as separate from your living space as possible. Creating boundaries is the most important factor in shutting off work while at home. Even a small desk at the end of your bed is better than keeping work supplies sprawled all over your mattress and nightstand.
To create an efficient workstation, here are a few helpful things to have:
- Audio cables and HDMI cables to connect your setup
- Headphones for meetings and to get in the zone
- Ergonomic keyboard for comfort
- Laptop docking stations or video adaptors to reduce eye fatigue
Whether you’re equipped with great tech gear or not, the point remains the same: keep work away from where you relax. By keeping everything in one distinct area, it’s easier to transition from work hours to home time at the end of the day.
3. Establish a ‘shut down’ ritual to detach from the workday
Another helpful way to shift from work to personal time is to create a ‘shut down ritual.’ The ritual can be customized to fit your personality, but it should include an activity that signifies the work day has ended and you’re entering the zone of “me time.”
Here are some ideas to consider:
- Take a shower or bath
- Change out of the clothes you wear for work
- Tidy your workspace
- Go for a walk (and take the dog with you)
- Have a home workout session
A shut down ritual can be key to enforcing a work stop time and helping you prioritize personal time in the evenings. If you find it tough to get up and leave, ease into the process by planning your aims for the next day first. Try spending 10 minutes planning tomorrow’s to-do list — that peace of mind alone will help you disconnect.