Lauren Crystal, co-founder of project management platform Hassl, shares five tips on how to best maintain your work-life balance. This article originally appeared on Kochie’s Business Builders.
Work-life lines are blurring
However, during lockdown many Australians have been on average, completing an extra four to five hours of work for free every week, according to the latest report from the Centre for Future Work.
That’s almost an hour of unpaid work every day, and it adds up to 2.4 billion hours per year.
But why are we completing more hours than necessary? It’s all based around the blur between work and life that occurs while working remotely. The normal 9-5 no longer exists, and many workers are now experiencing burnout as a result of this.
Psychologists and workplace researchers warn that if we don’t reclaim control over the hours per day that we spend doing “work”, we risk doing damage to our physical and mental wellbeing.
For those who want to make a conscious change to their workday dynamic, but don’t know where to start, here are five tips to help maintain a healthy work-life balance during COVID-19.
Tip #1: Take regular wellness breaks
Take wellness breaks, and take them regularly.
According to a recent survey from Airtasker, when comparing different ways that remote workers stayed productive, over 37 per cent believed that taking more breaks topped the list.
Additionally, a survey from Tork found that 90 per cent of employees felt refreshed and ready to get back to work after a proper lunch break. Not only that, but 81 per cent of employees who took regular breaks had the desire to be an active member of their company.
The human body was not designed to stare at a bright screen for hours on end. It’s not good for our health, or our mental wellbeing.
Incorporating wellness breaks into your routine provides you with micro-moments of relief, as well as a minute to give your mind a break between stressful or tenuous tasks.
It can be as easy as going for a quick walk outside or even grabbing a coffee at your local coffee shop.
Here at Hassl, we recently collaborated with mindfulness author, researcher and lecturer Dr Stephen McKenzie to develop our latest wellness feature, which encourages Australia’s workforce to take a series of breaks throughout their workday.
Tip #2: Have set work hours & set boundaries
Set work hours for yourself and do everything in your power to stick to them.
When you “leave” the office, or simply move from your desk to your couch during lockdown – avoid thinking about upcoming projects or answering emails.
Consider having a separate computer or phone for work, so you can shut it off when you clock off. If that’s not possible, use separate browsers or filters for your work and personal platforms.
With many workplaces now allowing their employees to pick their own work-hour schedules (starting and finishing earlier, or vice versa), it’s important to determine when you will start and stop working.
You should also notify your team members and your managers about boundaries beyond which you cannot be accessible. This will help to ensure that they understand and respect your workplace limits and expectations.
Tip #3: Prioritise your priorities
It’s important to determine the most urgent tasks for the day and allocate sufficient time to complete them.
When planning your to-do list ensure these ‘must complete’ tasks are sitting at the top of your agenda, so you are not spending excessive hours trying to complete them.
Note: Avoid checking your emails and phone every few minutes while finishing these urgent tasks, as they can often derail your attention and productivity.
Tip #4: Structure your time wisely
Once you have defined your priorities, it’s now time to structure your day around them.
By grouping similar tasks together you can be much more efficient in completing all your daily ‘to-dos’. You will then be able to complete high priority tasks first, medium priority tasks next and so on.
This will give you the freedom to allocate breaks during the day, once a segment of work is complete, as well as ensure you can comfortably meet deadlines for other various activities and tasks.
Tip #5: Make use of your annual leave and weekends
Finally, take advantage of your time off.
While many of us can’t actually go anywhere sufficient during lockdown, you should still take the time to unwind, refocus and relax.
Consider taking some of your annual leave to book a stay-cation or just simply pick up a new hobby or have a picnic with friends on your weekend.
Note: When taking well-needed time off, it’s valuable to minimise the amount of screen time you have on your mobile and laptop. It can also be useful to incorporate this into your weekday, especially at night, in order to recharge and get quality, uninterrupted sleep.