At the beginning of 2020 a fully remote job was a dream for many people… In 2021 it is a reality – but working from home brings a new set of challenges alongside any benefit.
The greatest consequence has been a reduction in the dreaded daily commute. An extra 1-2 hours a day allows any person more time for personal endeavours. However, without proactive planning these 1-2 hours can go to waste. The largest issue is the continual blurring of the lines between “home” and “work” – it is easy to begin living from work rather than working from home. This isn’t a good thing for businesses either, as extended hours have been shown in studies to deteriorate rapidly in terms of productivity per hour after a certain threshold, and may be more prone to inducing burnout in staff. Here are a few proactive ideas you can try in order to tighten the lines and improve work efficiency:
- Use extra time at home to exercise: Invest in an exercise machine or programme, and commit to using it daily. Many people overestimate their ability to maintain a strict exercise schedule and will plan to spend much more time than they ever do. Be realistic in your plans: set aside 5-10 minutes at first daily and gradually grow this to 30-60 minutes every single day. It is much easier to commit to a quick exercise session when you spend all day at home.
- Start the day with a hearty breakfast: Research shows that what you consume as the first meal of the day has a powerful effect on hormone levels throughout the day. Some people like a bigger breakfast and others a smaller breakfast – most people desire consistency in their breakfast and you should strive to make the time to find a meal you can look forward to eating every morning rather than something you consume quickly in the gap between two meetings.
- Use the Pomodoro technique: The Pomodoro technique is a time management method that uses a timer to break work out into intervals. It suggests using 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of rest for 4 cycles. You can alter the timings as you like, but be aware that spending longer than 60 minutes focusing on any one task may deteriorate your capability to accomplish that task compared with if you had taken breaks. Use these mini-breaks as an opportunity to stand up, go for a quick walk or even a quick exercise session. I have found that 50 minutes on and 15 minutes off works just as well as the 25/5 interval.
- Turn Slack notifications on your phone off: While we live in a high-pace dynamic environment, this doesn’t mean you should be available for contact 24 hours of the day. Keep Slack on the computer and minimise your usage of it on your phone – it is okay to occasionally check Slack off work hours, but that should be because you want to - not because you have to.
- Communicate: If you are really struggling to solve your work life balance then you shouldn’t forget that two minds are smarter than one. Don’t hesitate to communicate your issues to someone, whether that be family, friends or a colleague. Sharing your problems is healthy; while others may help you find solutions, often it is the simple act of communicating a problem that illuminates a solution in your own mind.
The last year has shown us that things we assumed fixed were indeed flexible. However, finding a healthy work-life balance is still essential - while we should utilise the time at home to improve our work efficiency and productivity, this should not be at the expense of our physical or mental wellbeing but rather as a by-product of their improvement.
Ph. Credits: Cindy Tang on Unsplash