“I haven’t showered in 2 days.” Finding work-life balance when working from home.

Post on October 26, 2020

Does anyone remember what a 9-to-5 workday was like? We don’t. It seems like a relic of ancient history. Finding work-life balance when working from home is difficult! Long gone are the days of going out for lunch with colleagues and hitting the gym after work. Instead, we’re stuck in small spaces, juggling home and work duties, and getting work messages at all hours of the day and night. And we’re clocking 3 extra hours of work every day, according to Bloomberg.

Here are some tips from our workbuddy community for staying sane, “agony aunt” style:

“I feel like I have to answer messages straight away to prove I’m being productive and to keep my job.”

When you get a message, how many devices are notifying you of that message? Your laptop, phone, AND Apple watch? That’s a lot. It’s almost as if 3 people are nagging you to answer right away. The truth is, they’re not. Nothing is that life-or-death urgent in most people’s professions. So calm down, you can finish brushing your teeth before you answer. 

Also, remember it’s the results you produce that count. Most managers don’t care how you do it, as long as you get results. Make sure to schedule in at least two 20-minute non-screen breaks every day (not including lunch), so you can come back refreshed and ready to get on with it.

“In the office, there’s more incentive to work faster and go home faster. At home, I notice it’s 6pm, then 8pm, but I have nothing else to do, so I keep going.”

It is VERY tempting to keep going, especially if you feel the need to please your boss or prove yourself. There’s also the misconception that, “If I get more done today, I’ll have less to do tomorrow.” Not true. There’ll always be more to do. And if you finish early the next day, you’ll probably feel guilty and invent more tasks for yourself, anyway. 

When work hours end, STOP. Close that laptop and get yourself as far from it as possible. It’s a good idea to schedule something else exactly when work ends, so at 6pm, you’ve got a call with a friend. Or you’ve got an online yoga class booked. Something you’ll feel guilty about cancelling. That should do the trick.

“I miss having my own workspace and office amenities like printers and a proper chair.”

One option is to ask your company for a budget to spend on amenities like monitors or laptop stands for your home office. If they’re not willing to provide, or there’s no space at home for a dedicated work area, try booking into a co-working space for a day. They are all following government guidelines to keep people safe.

If you’re up for getting a membership, try workbuddy. You get access to more than 35 professional workspaces across Singapore with one app. That way, you can have a nice desk and chair, great Wi-Fi, and fancy printers. You can probably find a co-working space close to home, to avoid a long commute. (Unless you miss commuting, in which case, book the one furthest away)! Plus, you get your first week completely free

“I’m taking fewer breaks because it feels like there’s no excuse for being unavailable.”

This goes out to all our work-from-homies right now: you ARE allowed to go to the bathroom. You ARE allowed to take breaks. You ARE allowed to keep regular office hours and knock off at 6pm. Send this to anyone else who needs to hear it.

It’s time to learn how to put down boundaries, for the sake of your own sanity. One good practice is to block out an hour on your calendar for lunch every day, so your team can see you’re unavailable. If you use Slack, set your status to “Lunch break” or “Focus mode” and turn off notifications when you need to. Also, if your team are messaging you out of work hours, tell them it’s not okay. Some people feel the need to message as soon as they have a thought, in case they forget later. Introduce them to concepts like “scheduling emails” to send during work hours, or “a notebook” to write their thoughts down in.

“I feel isolated.”

You know what? Many of us used to complain that all the office banter was distracting. Now we miss it.

One idea is to get your company to set up a “virtual social room” – like a Google Hangout or Zoom link that’s always live, so anyone can join and chat when they want to. It’s a fun way to keep the banter going and feel social. Another idea is to join groups of people who do the same role as you, but in different companies. There may be a Facebook group or Slack dedicated to designers, for example, or HR people. It’s always good to have people you can go to for help, or to bounce ideas off of. 

And hey, it helps to remember that you’re not the only one: we’re all feeling isolated, too.

“I haven’t showered in 2 days.”

Stop what you’re doing and go shower. 

Now. 

Off you go. 

Yes, you. 

Now.

Yes, right NOW.

Well done!

The workbuddy team

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