Entering the workforce during the pandemic was a scary feeling. Attending college, I was in-person and excited about my future and thought I knew what to expect in a corporate environment. So, when I accepted my first position as a remote worker, I thought my job would be a breeze. The early morning alarms, getting prepared for the day, and sitting in rush-hour traffic for a long commute was not going to be my reality. Then I found myself looking forward to spending that extra time at home with my pet and loved ones.
At first, it was all fun in games. That was until reality set in, and I began to feel I was getting too comfortable in my routine. It started with an unhealthy sleeping schedule and feeling disengaged from my peers. Soon, the lines blurred between my work life and home life 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 regain that balance. Here are seven things I learned throughout my journey to reset my work-life balance and set 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
- Shut off your screens
- Celebrate your own wins
Learning what’s best for your work performance is critical. Each employee has their own combination of systems, skills and tools that work best for them. Some stay organized with handwritten notes and check off their tasks as they complete them. Others have adapted technology into their workflows and work best with a digital planner.
At home, you also now have the ability to listen to music out loud. 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 your time learning what helps you thrive. And don’t forget to share it with your peers and listen to their recommendations — you might benefit from something in each other’s individual work styles.
Participate in staff outings and take the time to get to know your peers. These are people who are there to help and support you in your professional growth journey. Even if you decide to take your career elsewhere, put effort into making a connection. Don’t be afraid to check on your coworkers. Getting off topic before a team meeting isn’t a crime. Sharing adorable photos of your dog as a puppy or the latest trending meme can help your team bond.
You might ask, “What if our company employees are scattered throughout the globe?” Well, it’s 2022, and there are plenty of virtual activities out there for remote teams that will help you socialize and support your teammates.
Don’t guilt-trip yourself when using those well-deserved vacation days. Working from home is rewarding, and you have more time to yourself, but weekends and holidays shouldn’t be the only time you take off work. When working from home, you might find that you need a break from your daily environment, too.
44% of Americans regret not traveling or taking trips more often. Taking advantage of your PTO by going somewhere new is a great way to distance yourself from a daily work-from-home routine. The excitement of new places and experiences might just be what you need to relax and step away from the daily grind. Your travels or time off might even motivate you to be more productive during working hours so you can take your next vacation faster.
Almost every healthcare professional will tell you that taking care of your body is essential. There are many different approaches to physical health, but eating food that benefits you is a great step in the right direction. With the kitchen only steps away, it’s easy to take multiple trips to your fridge or pantry throughout the work day – especially if you’re procrastinating on that email to your team lead. Keeping healthy snacks on hand is a great way to give your body the nutrients it needs, so try adding some veggies 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 get groceries or cook meals during the week, your workload will have you ordering take-out for lunch and dinner. Planning out your meals, ordering curbside pickup for groceries, and picking one day of the week to meal prep can help you save that precious weeknight downtime and take care of your body.
Mental health awareness is on the rise as younger generations continue to address the less-accepted side of personal health. Today, we’re constantly reminded of mental health’s importance by 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 a stranger to the signs of an unhealthy mentality in yourself. Even if nothing “major” is affecting your life, the practice of positivity and gratitude goes a long way. There’s always room for healthy self-improvement. Keep in mind that mental health is a part of everyone’s overall health, so reaching out to another person might make your day better.
Between computers, cell phones, TVs, thermostats and more, we often get tired of looking at screens throughout the day. Pulling out your phone during breaks and personal time won’t give your brain the breather it needs from processing information on a screen.
Focus on clearing your mind: Try going for a walk outdoors and take some time to appreciate the nature around you. Reading a book or picking up a hobby can benefit you in many ways. Don’t forget to let yourself mentally clock out as well: Avoid things that remind you of work outside of business hours to keep yourself from late-night logins.
Even when you’re working your hardest, you might not always receive 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’ve done better. This could have been different.” Take the time to reward yourself for your accomplishments and celebrate your wins, big and small.
Since setting my own routine, I’ve learned that there’s no perfect balance on the work-life scale. Sometimes your personal life requires more attention, or you begin to put more energy into your career because you want to advance. One side of the scale will almost always be higher than the other, but the weight distribution doesn’t need to be the same each day. Things change, and so should your work-life balance. Take a few minutes from time to time to reflect on how your current balance fits into your priorities and adjust the scales and you might find the work-life balance that’s right for you along the way.