Entering the workforce during the pandemic was a scary feeling. Going to college, I was in person and excited about my future and thought I knew what to expect in a corporate setting. So when I accepted my first remote worker position, I thought my job would be a piece of cake. Early morning alarms, getting ready for the day, and sitting in rush hour traffic during a long commute was not going to be my reality. So I found myself looking forward to spending that extra time at home with my pet and loved ones.
In the beginning, everything was fun in the games. That was until reality set in and I started to feel like I was getting too comfortable with my routine. It started with an unhealthy sleep schedule and feeling disconnected from my peers. Soon the lines between my work and home life blurred as I found myself unable to disconnect from work even though my responsibilities hadn’t changed. The simple fact that my home was my workplace made it difficult to set boundaries.
Eventually, I had to accept that my social life and work performance would continue to suffer if I didn’t create a routine to balance both parts of my life. I began to reflect on my current habits and what boundaries I needed in my life to help bring that balance back. Here are seven things I’ve learned throughout my journey to restore my work-life balance and establish my own routine while working remotely.
- Learn your work style
- Socialize with your peers
- Use your paid time off
- Be mindful of your meals
- Prioritize your mental health
- turn off your screens
- Celebrate your own victories
Learning what is best for your job performance is critical. Each employee has their own mix of systems, skills, and tools that work best for them. Some stay organized with handwritten notes and check off tasks as they are completed. Others have adapted the technology to their workflows and work better with a digital planner.
At home, now you also have the possibility to listen to music at full volume. Whether it’s your Spotify On Repeat playlist or an eight-hour-long YouTube binaural beat video, listen to something that will keep you focused and motivated. As you reflect on your work style, take some time to learn what helps you thrive. And don’t forget to share it with your peers and listen to their recommendations; could benefit from something in the individual work styles of each.
Participate in staff outings and take time to get to know your colleagues. These are people who are there to help and support you on your career growth journey. Even if you decide to take your career elsewhere, strive to make a connection. Don’t be afraid to control your co-workers. Getting off topic before a team meeting is not a crime. Sharing adorable photos of your dog as a puppy or the latest trending meme can help your team bond.
You might ask yourself, “What if our company’s employees are scattered all over the world?” Well, we are in 2022 and there are many virtual activities available for remote teams to help you socialize and support your teammates.
Don’t feel guilty about using up those well-deserved vacation days. Working from home is rewarding and you have more time for yourself, but weekends and holidays shouldn’t be the only times you don’t work. When you work from home, you may also need a break from your daily environment.
44% of Americans regret not traveling or traveling more often. Leveraging your PTO by going somewhere new is a great way to get away from the daily grind of working from home. The excitement of new places and experiences may be just what you need to relax and get away from the daily grind. Your travel or free time can even motivate you to be more productive during work hours so you can take your next vacation faster.
Almost all health professionals will tell you that taking care of your body is essential. There are many different approaches to physical health, but eating foods that benefit you is a big step in the right direction. With the kitchen just steps away, it’s easy to make multiple trips to your fridge or pantry during the work day, especially if you’re putting off that email to your team leader. Keeping healthy snacks on hand is a great way to give your body the nutrients it needs, so try adding some greens and hummus to your pizza rolls for your mid-morning snack.
A heavy workload can also make it more difficult for you to eat well. If you don’t have the time or energy to shop for groceries or cook during the week, your workload will force you to order takeout for lunch and dinner. Planning your meals, ordering curbside pickup for groceries, and choosing a day of the week to prepare food can help you save that precious weekday downtime and take care of your body.
Mental health awareness is on the rise as younger generations continue to tackle the less accepted side of personal health. Today, we are constantly reminded of the importance of mental health through references on social media, videos, and more. Remote work can have a positive impact on your mental health, but it can also do the opposite.
Neglecting your mental health can have many long-term impacts on your life and your performance at work. Don’t be oblivious to the signs of an unhealthy mindset in yourself. Even if nothing “important” is affecting your life, practicing positivity and gratitude goes a long way. There is always room for healthy self-improvement. Keep in mind that mental health is part of everyone’s overall health, so connecting with another person could make your day better.
Between computers, cell phones, televisions, thermostats and more, many times we get tired of looking at screens throughout the day. Pulling out your phone during breaks and personal time won’t give your brain the breathing room it needs to process information on a screen.
Focus on clearing your mind – try going for a walk outside and taking time to appreciate the nature around you. Read a book or pick up a hobby can benefit you in many ways. Don’t forget to unplug mentally too: avoid things that remind you of work outside of business hours to avoid late-night logins.
Even when you try your best, you may not always get a raise or a pat on the back from others. Don’t be so hard on yourself that you forget to celebrate your own achievements. We are our own worst enemies when the little voice in our head keeps saying, “You could have done better. This could have been different.” Take time to reward yourself for your accomplishments and celebrate your victories, big and small.
Since establishing my own routine, I’ve learned that there is no perfect balance on the work-life scale. Sometimes your personal life requires more attention, or you start putting more energy into your career because you want to get ahead. One side of the scale will almost always be higher than the other, but the weight distribution doesn’t have to be the same every day. Things change, and so does your work-life balance. Take a few minutes every now and then to reflect on how your current balance fits with your priorities and adjust the scale and you can find the work-life balance that’s right for you down the road.