The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way we work, parent, socialize, and for much of how we live our lives. Since entering quarantine back in March, the country has had to pivot to a remote, work-from-home lifestyle. While initially this transition had its challenges, we have all started to settle in to some sort of routine of virtual meetings, online skills and development webinars, and flexible work schedules. However, it is becoming obvious that our initial short-term solutions to successfully juggling all of these moving pieces is not going to work indefinitely. We need to rethink how we structure our time and our day so that we can get through this long-term.
As we move into the fall and hopefully, a flattening of the pandemic curve, we need to start to figure out how to sustain this chaos of living in a post COVID-19 world. Success is going to involve creating and achieving a robust work-life balance. Being able to efficiently integrate our professional and personal lives will help us decrease our stress and increase our productivity. If we want to perform at the top of our game, we are going to have to be strategic and intentional in how we manage everything. Here are some ideas on balancing personal and professional responsibilities that may help achieve balance.
Get Organized – Putting in the effort to get organized can help reduce stress. Organization has a way of making you feel recharged. Perhaps start by controlling your calendar. Consider building a schedule for your various responsibilities, creating a to-do list or action items that you need and want to accomplish. Block out your personal time and priorities in your daily schedule. Creating and maintaining a daily routine can make you feel productive and give you a sense of some control over the chaos.
Keep in Contact with Others – Try to schedule Skype, Facetime, or Zoom calls with those in your professional and social network multiple times each week. At the very least, have a few quick phone calls or text conversations. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day with your kids. You should also stay connected to other adults and have regular adult conversations.
Get Outside and Get Moving – One of the biggest problems with being stuck in quarantine can be the feeling of being isolated. Shake off those feelings by grabbing your mask and going outside. Go for a walk, get some exercise and sunlight. Being active and having fresh air for at least 30 minutes can quickly raise your spirits.
Disconnect – With the increased amount of screen time – webinars, Zoom meetings, virtual interviews, remote schooling – we are all more susceptible to tech fatigue. It is important to schedule regular breaks throughout the day to rest your eyes and mind and to eliminate that feeling of “always” being on. Whether you are looking for a new job or working from home, it is easy to slip into a 24/7 workday. Recharge yourself by unplugging on a regular basis.
Do Something for Yourself – If you are able, schedule some time and space to pursue a personal goal or activity. Have your spouse watch the kids so you can read a book, take a nap, or watch a favorite movie. Taking some time for yourself will help you tackle the day with more patience and acceptance and can keep you from reaching a breaking point.
Finally, take the time to celebrate little successes whenever you can. Remember that we are all facing a complex situation and everyone is dealing with the chaos differently. When we are anxious and cooped up, we tend to show our worst behavior, not our best. Keep in mind that the pandemic is temporary; it is not going to be forever. Being gracious and forgiving can go a long way in helping you ride out this storm and achieve a calm, productive work-life balance.