Achieving a healthy work-life balance is easier said than done, especially when you work from home. The boundaries between your work life and professional life just get blurred most of the time. No wonder then that most of us are overworked and constantly at the brink of burning out.
Usually, going out with friends or quick vacations provided respite when our work commitments start to get overwhelming. Anything to clear our minds outside of work.
However, the global pandemic took all these options off the table. It’s not safe for any of us to go out, travel, or even see our loved ones. There aren’t any commutes to signify the start of a work day, or are there any events and gatherings to look forward to after hours.
Worse still, it’s harder to get away from work responsibilities. Zoom fatigue is very much a reality.
So, unless you want to burn out, it would be helpful to work on strengthening three important boundaries:
Who would have thought that we would miss catching the train or bus to work? I surely don’t. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t miss commuting during rush hour or waking up ridiculously early to get to work on time. However, such routines helped clear the boundaries between work and home, and the travel time helped prepare our minds for the tasks ahead.
For all its advantages, the WFH life isn’t very conducive to healthy boundaries. Most of us feel the pressure to be constantly on, even beyond working hours. Those constant emails, texts, and instant chat messages bombard us through the day, and we feel compelled to reply all the time because our homes are now our offices as well.
This makes setting boundaries when it comes to working hours, breaks, and rest days even more important. Just because you’re free (or online) doesn’t mean you’re available.
Instead, inform your colleagues and clients about the best time to reach you….as well as your off hours. And stick to them, no matter how hard it might be at first. When your work day ends, put your computer away, stop checking emails, and turn off your notifications. Shift your focus to spending time with family and other recreational activities.
Boundaries at Home
If you are a parent whose kids attend online classes, you are probably at your wits’ end. Work is stressful enough. Trying to get things done while dealing with screaming children who don’t want to attend school? That’s enough to drive anyone nuts.
Look, it’s great that WFH enables parents to eat meals and spend time with their family on work days. But it can also be challenging to work when they constantly interrupt.
Whether it’s your parent, spouse, kids, or pets, be clear about your need for silence when you have to work. As with your colleagues and clients, set boundaries about when it’s okay to talk to you and when it isn’t.
Working in a separate room, if possible, will help you reinforce such boundaries. They can come in if there’s a pressing emergency, but if the door is closed, make them wait until you clock out.
Do you constantly check your social media accounts? Do you find yourself binge-watching random YouTube videos? Are you easily distracted by your pets?
If you tend to procrastinate, confront your self-destructive habits. Install monitoring apps on your phone to limit social media browsing during specific hours. Have website blockers in place if you tend to get distracted by certain sites while working.
Determine your most potent distractions and create ways to minimise, or better yet, get rid of them completely.
It also helps to plan your day as you would a regular work day. Block out time for your morning coffee, work hours, and exercise. And again, stick to them. Create a schedule that reinforces healthy boundaries so you won’t feel guilty for ignoring unnecessary emails during weekends.
The pandemic has been hard on everyone’s mental health. It’s more important than ever to set healthy boundaries now. After all, we work best when we are healthy and well-rested.
If you’re looking for ways to cultivate a healthier and more productive workplace for your Filipino remote workers, you’ve come to the right place. Remote Staff has been assisting AU entrepreneurs like you with finding top Filipino remote talent for more than ten years. We know a thing or two about what strategies work (and which ones don’t), and we’d be more than happy to share them with you.