2020 hasn’t exactly been an easy year for work-life blend. Thanks to quarantine, most of us are working from home. That means we’re always physically at our place of work.
Balance isn’t obvious with remote work. By now, many of us understand the importance of a dedicated work space, going for walks to break up the day, and communicating unique family needs to one’s boss and team. Those are all important.
And yet, we may still feel like work-life blend eludes us.
Here are 5 work-life blend tips you may not have thought of that can have a huge payoff.
1. Don’t judge your own self-care practice
Self-care does not have to mean yoga and a face mask. True self-care should not feel like another thing you “should” do or “have to get done.” Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to completely unwind?” Maybe it’s cooking, watching reality television, napping, reading a romance novel, or playing video games. Any of these activities can be healthy if you’re still getting your work done and your other obligations are met. A good self-care activity entails recharging and turning your brain off of work mode. It can mean whatever it means to you, and it will be different for everyone. It’s tempting to say “I shouldn’t watch this television show because it has no intellectually redeeming value.” Think about it differently: If it genuinely helps you unwind, take your mind off work, relax and laugh, then you’re doing your job of self-care correctly.
2. Working from home is not PTO
It’s tempting to feel like taking vacation is a waste when we’re working from home. Many people think, “Why would I waste precious paid time off? I’m already home!” But, that sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. Taking proper and official PTO will give you permission to fully unplug without feeling guilty, even if it’s just a stay-cation. When is your next vacation?
3. Put temptation away, literally
Your phone pings with an email from your boss at 8pm. It would be so easy to just jump onto your computer and quickly answer her question. So you do. But, before you know it... one email turns into six. You look up and two hours have gone by. Sound familiar? To combat this blur, put your work computer and work phone in a hard-to-access place at a pre-designated time every weekday evening. I have one client who places her laptop in a high-up drawer in her home office at 6:30pm on weekdays. This extra step — putting work away in a place where you don’t normally reach for it— will make it much harder to just “jump on real quick.” You’ve built in extra friction in the process of opening up work, which will make you less likely to engage with it during off hours. This small physical separation could quite literally give you your evenings back.
4. Engage in “mini-mindfulness”
What do you think of when you hear the word “mindfulness?” Maybe you conjure sitting in a dark room for 30 minutes, chanting “ohm” and having no distractions. But mindfulness can successfully be achieved in small, 2 minute increments during the most stressful parts of your day. It can take place during a zoom meeting, while you’re writing an email, or before giving a big presentation. Use mini-mindfulness sessions when you feel your body tensing with stress or anxiety. Pick two senses to focus on, one at a time. You might first select hearing. What is the sound furthest away from you that you can hear? Next, what is the closest sound that you can hear? Spend a few moments thinking about those sounds and nothing else. You might then pick sight. What is something new in this room that you’ve never noticed before? Do this for two minutes, and then return to your work task. You’ll find that this brief focus on your body and senses decreases your heart rate. You’ll have better focus and perspective.
5. Keep a to do list... on the cloud
To do lists aren’t novel. Instead of a paper or word document list though, try keeping your to-do list on an app that uploads to all your devices. (I personally like OneNote. Many of my clients use the Notes app on their iPhone, which syncs to their Mac.) This way, anywhere you go, whatever device you’re on, your list is with you and up-to-date. Keeping a to-do list prevents you from needing to do the task exactly when you think of it.
These 5 steps may seem simple. But trust me, they’re game-changing for those who have trouble unplugging from work. Give them a shot— you’ll be happy you did.
This article was written by Julia Wuench from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.