The COVID-19 pandemic has left us readjusting to a new normal — which is anything but normal. Whether you’ve worked from home or not, we’re all struggling with balance — staying productive at work on the one hand and maintaining our emotional and physical wellbeing on the other. And that’s okay! We’ve compiled some useful tips to help you with that balance.
1. Set clear boundaries.
With remote working, you’ll be spared the commute from your home to your office, which saves you some time in the morning, but also means that it’ll be a challenge to maintain a clear distinction between your workspace and your personal space. Start by separating the two. Working from your bed might seem tempting, but it’ll do you and your productivity some good if you can find a trusty chair and laptop desk, and designate this space as your “office”. Let everyone in your home know that this is your workspace, to limit distractions when you’re getting work done. This spatial separation also creates much-needed mental boundaries, reminding you that there’s a need for both work and rest in your schedule.
2. Create a personalized routine.
We’ve found that a common experience for most of us during the pandemic is losing track of the days of the week. How often have you mistaken a Saturday for a Monday? This seems like quite a stretch, but don’t worry — this is only normal. When we’re engaged in similar activities each day, in the same physical environment, it makes us feel as if life is passing us by. This is where tip #2 comes in handy! Having more time on our hands means that there is greater room for flexibility; Our routines can be modified to suit our individual needs. So plan a routine just for you — note down your work deadlines in your calendar, and keep your alarm to its usual time, but within each day, learn to set appropriate time limits for each task, such that you have adequate time for rest. Be sure to keep an eye on how much time you’re spending on work daily — don’t let work spill over into your personal time, or vice versa. When we don’t, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of overworking yourself and suffering a burnout.
Here’s a pro tip from the team: Spice up your routine by creating little moments of joy daily. A routine doesn’t have to be rigid, so make it enjoyable! On Monday, you could squeeze in a short cardio workout before starting on work proper — to get that burst of energy you need. On Tuesday, you could substitute the cardio for a little self-care, by meditating or doing some Pilates. On Friday, treat yourself to a luxurious bubble bath, as your end-of-work ritual — because you deserve it.
3.Trust in your to-do lists.
Keep your days organized by coming up with categorized checklists. You could jot it all down in a notebook, or make them digitally accessible. The plus point about lists is that — you can feel free to add tasks as they come in and feel the satisfaction of checking them off when they’re done. This keeps distractions at bay too. So when you’re in the middle of your workday and a new item for your grocery list comes to mind, simply add it to the home section of your list, and leave the thought for later. This way, nothing will slip through the cracks, and you’ll be able to stick to your everyday routine much easier.
4.Make time to work out.
With all this time at home, we’re walking less. But that isn’t a good reason to skip out on a good sweat, which is proven to be the ultimate mood-booster. We can still stay in and stay fit — grab a few workout buddies, create a YouTube playlist of home-exercise videos and set aside some time each day to connect over a Zoom call and get your hearts pumping together! Your home exercises can vary from day-to-day. You could start with fun aerobic dance sessions, try out some HIIT workouts, or work on stabilizing your core with some strength training. The point is to stay active. Keeping fit should be of greater importance now than before — it strengthens your immunity, and preserves your health, preventing you from falling sick.
5. Get out of your workspace.
During your breaks, get some fresh air — outside of the confines of your makeshift office. You could meet friends at the park nearby for a stroll for your morning refresher, take your home workouts outside, or even add some vibrant colour to your balcony by starting a garden. Making time for these different activities also fuels you with a newfound sense of purpose. When you take a breather, you might get that perspective shift you need when you feel stuck on a certain work task.
6. Check in with your colleagues.
Though we have endless video-conferencing options to make remote working feel less lonely, it may still leave us feeling socially isolated and anxious. This gives us good reason to find opportunities to connect with each other! It could be a weekly catch-up over an online call, or a spontaneous coffee date — anything that helps us with sharing our concerns, talking about how we are coping with our workloads, and exploring more efficient ways to help one another out. By keeping in regular contact with your co-workers, you remember that there is a professional network supporting you in this journey and that you’re not alone. Seeing, and speaking to each other will always help to open up healthy dialogues, sustain positive communication, and boost team morale.
7.Show compassion toward yourself.
At the end of the day, know that we are all trying to get the hang of things. As we constantly adjust our lives to cope better with the new normal, our professional and personal roles and responsibilities are shifting as well. We can expect that uncertainty and stress will come with the process. Nevertheless, make a mental note to take each day as it comes and to take things moment by moment. As you navigate such tumultuous times, learn to practise self-compassion, as a skill. This comes when we take the time to think about our self-talk — the conversations that we have with ourselves. What do we tell ourselves when we realise that we have made a mistake? If you find that you’re holding yourself to extremely high standards - and that’s taking a toll on your mental well-being, perhaps it’s time to take a step back. For instance, instead of thinking “I need to get it together”, try tweaking your internal dialogue to something like “I can learn from this, and there will be better days.”
In other words, when you find that you’re having a bad day, just think of what you would say to a friend in similar circumstances.
The team at Half the Sky Asia is now working remotely in line with the measures to slow the coronavirus spread and we have been learning a lot along the way. Have fun trying out these suggestions, and let us know which of our tips work the best for you! Do you have any recommendations to share.
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half the sky (HTS) is a career platform for women in Asia. We connect women to career opportunities at companies that care. We also want to equip you with information, tips and strategies to navigate the workplace today and the future.
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