Most of us would agree that remote work has its advantages: There’s no commute, you can work in sweats, and a more flexible workday can offer more time for things you enjoy.
However, this newfound freedom can be both a blessing and a curse. It can be incredibly easy to fall into the trap of working all the time. At the office, you generally have a set cut-off time, but when you're working from home, you might feel tempted to put in more hours to get ahead. This could be a mistake: Research shows that overwork, burnout, and Zoom fatigue are all too common for members of today’s remote workforce.
[ Read also: COVID-19 leadership lessons: 5 ways to help your team recharge. ]
Maintaining a strong work-life balance is critical to staying healthy and productive, especially in today’s pandemic-stressed world. Here are a few creative solutions to help establish and foster a liveable work-life balance.
Take meal breaks
Are you the type of person who sits in front of the laptop, typing with one hand and eating a sandwich with another? Giving up this practice is one way to make sure that you work time for yourself into the work day. We all have to respond to our natural hunger cues so scheduling breaks based around typical meal times (breakfast, lunch, dinner) can create a flow that is easier to follow.
Be sure to make meal times designated moments away from work devices and focus on enjoying the meal. Take an hour for lunch as if you were still in the office. Take a break for coffee or a snack. Take real time to switch off, regroup, and return to work refreshed.
[ Need advice on looking good and being effective in virtual meetings? Read also: Zoom tips: 6 ways to make meetings better. ]
Timing is everything
Sometimes your morning calls run straight into your afternoon meetings – and before you know it, the workday is over. While we can’t always control our work schedule, a little thoughtful timing, especially during busy days, can help boost productivity. For example, setting specific time limits for individual tasks can help you maintain a steady and productive pace throughout the day.
List the tasks you need to complete during the work week and set time blocks to complete each one – for example, you might dedicate two hours to write a report and one to update schedules. Schedule time to make phone calls, check email, read reports, attend webinars, and handle any other responsibilities you may have, and stick to the plan.
Breaking up your responsibilities into timed tasks can help you work more efficiently and boost your sense of accomplishment – which in turn increases motivation and makes you a more valuable employee. An added bonus? You might even find yourself with more free time to enjoy outside activities.
Find a new passion
Sometimes, the easiest way to drag yourself away from your laptop is to have a passion or distraction that you feel compelled to not miss. This could be anything from going to the gym, to baking, to getting a new pet. Whatever it is, make sure it is something engaging that requires you to unplug.
Work is important, of course – and understandably, many of us are taking advantage of today’s new normal by putting in extra hours to stand out. But we can only do our best work when we feel our best.
So, resist the urge to be consumed by screens and use these tips to find time for yourself. It will help you stay healthy, happy, and balanced in your personal life and your career.
[ What can you learn from companies that are almost fully remote? Read Remote work: Lessons from a remote-first company. ]