Finding A Steady Work-Life Balance While Working From Home

Working from home has both its pros and its cons, however, working from home in the midst of a global pandemic poses completely new challenges that impact nearly everyone. These times are unprecedented. Not only are you dealing with stresses from work, but you also have your entire family home with you all struggling to adjust to new schedules while trying to maintain a sense of normalcy through it all.

It’s a tough time. What poses an even greater challenge is trying to find a balance between your daily work and home life. While the biggest perk of working from home is flexibility, that sense of freedom can also increase pressure. You feel pressured to stay on top of work tasks, so you find yourself working longer hours than usual. You also feel pressured to stay on top of personal responsibilities and eventually find yourself burning the candle at both ends.

When your home is your office, but also a school, a playground, a restaurant, and everything in between, it can be difficult to draw the line of separation, and you quickly find yourself exasperated. Creating a harmonious life can feel nearly impossible these days unless you have some serious boundaries in place.

Before you find yourself suffering from burn out, try these tips for a steady work-life balance that saves your sanity and allows you to enjoy your personal interests during shelter-in-place.

Establish a schedule that replicates your work and school schedule.

If you’re working remotely, try setting a schedule and sticking to it. It’s easy to lose track of time when there are no scheduled stops in your day. Creating a schedule ensures that you stay productive without tasks taking consuming your time and taking over your day. Setting hours is especially beneficial for working parents who also have to manage virtual school and other responsibilities.

Just as you are used to a work schedule, your kids have set schedules at school and they’re also trying to adapt to a new way of life. The setting of a schedule sets boundaries so that your entire family is getting work done during the appropriate times, while still having time for personal tasks later. Your schedule should include every waking moment of your day that was affected by the pandemic. Include the times you wake up and go to bed, get dressed, take showers, and work a manageable number of hours.

When you work from home, you don’t have to rush around in the morning the same way you do when you go to work in the office. So dedicate the time you would normally spend commuting to eating breakfast together, or meditating and spending some quiet time alone. That way, you’ll wake yourself up and mentally prepare for being productive throughout the day.

Announce your availability (and when you won’t be available)

One of the biggest obstacles of working from home is communicating with your colleagues and boss. Because you aren’t physically visible, you may feel “guilty” and like you need to overcompensate by being accessible at all times online. You do not. You don’t need to be available to everyone at all times. Doing so can set false expectations for your employees or coworkers that you are available to them whenever they need it. This can cause you to get off task by having to answer every chat or email, or even cause you to fall behind in your work due to feeling overwhelmed by over communication.

Tell those you work with what your specific working hours are, and do not deviate from your schedule. Once you’ve determined a daily schedule that makes sense for you and your team, use different tools, like slack, to publicize that schedule so your team members are mindful and respectful of that time. Knowing your availability and bandwidth are especially helpful if others rely on your decisions or approvals to move forward with projects and tasks. Relying on a strict schedule not only helps you maintain boundaries with co-workers but with your family as well, as it lets them know when they have access to you while still being mindful of using your personal time to recharge.

Make breaks mandatory

When you feel like you’re losing control of your work and personal life it can negatively impact your health and your happiness. Working for long hours with no time for self or to refocus can make you feel lonely and isolated. It can also result in causing stress that flows into other areas of your life. To overcome that, keep your breaks planned and take them as scheduled. That includes coffee breaks, lunch breaks, and even breaks between meetings. That way, you won’t feel monotonous while working for long hours. When you take your breaks, be sure to take them away from your work station.

Getting up from your desk and take a walk, around your house or outside, even if it’s just for five minutes. You can stand up, get mobile, and get a quick dose of Vitamin D. Walk your dog, check your mail, drink a cup of tea, play a game of hide and seek with the kids, or even break out the yoga mat and do some stretching. Physical activity will help release endorphins that give you a boost of energy so you can finish strong and relaxed throughout the day when you return to your desk.

Take a day off

You’re still allowed to take a sick or personal day, even if you’re working from home. Even if you have nowhere to go. Taking care of your mental health is especially important these days. If you are able to do so, taking a step back from the daily hustle ― whether it’s a day or a week ― can be a necessary reset for how you approach your job. Busyness is not a badge of honor you need to wear. By taking time to step away from work, and even typically home responsibilities allow you to refocus, and recharge your mental and physical capacity. Taking a day off or fitting in a vacation can help you become a better worker by giving you some distance—and some much-needed objectivity—about your job and your career. You may find after a few days that there’s a much more efficient way to maximize your workflow that up until now you haven’t taken advantage of. It’s important to remember that you’re working from home for a reason and that working from home is not a workplace perk. Whether you’re in an office or working at home, you only owe your employer the very best that you can offer. By taking some time off for yourself, you’re ensuring just that.

Make plans after-work and stick to them

In a traditional office, when the day is done you know to pack up and leave work behind. However, when working from home, you don’t really have a hard stopping point which can make it difficult to truly step away from work at the end of the day, even if you’ve closed your laptop and signed off. Forming digital habits like checking emails or returning voicemails or checking work-related apps is an easy trap to fall into when work hours are over. It’s important to be firm and completely step out of work mode at normal hours. Making plans after work is a good way to get you in the habit of putting down your work life and picking up your personal life.

Whether the plans include a family dinner, movie night, virtual happy hour drinks friends, or working out, if you have somewhere to be at the end of your workday, you’ll be more likely to actually sign off and stop working. This is essential for your mental health and lets your family know they have your undivided attention.

Eat proper meals

With your fridge in such close proximity, you can feel tempted to spend the whole day grazing on snacks and missing out on enjoying full meals. This can hurt your productivity and also affect your energy levels while trying to maintain stressful workloads or personal schedules.

In a traditional office setting, you might feel more compelled to take a proper 30 minutes to an hour lunch break, and even plan your dinner menu for your family in the evening. While working from home, make your lunch breaks a time where you remove yourself from your work station and sit at your table for a proper, nutritious meal. The same goes for dinner. Whether your dinner plans include a party of one or your entire family, set a schedule to “leave” work, and enjoy a proper meal with at the table.

Because you’re exhausted, you may feel like you’re not productive enough or falling behind. The most important thing to remember is to be kind and patient with yourself. Learning to adapt to this new way of life takes time. The first step is to take an active approach to find your own work-life balance that works for your life and your personal and professional needs.

While you work on your time management skills, Big Box Catering can take one big thing off your plate, and that’s your meal. We make it even easier to get your favorite meals on your table for lunch AND for dinner. We’ve got a full menu of light or hearty options for you and your family to enjoy and the best part, you can get it delivered right to your door. From sandwich wraps to stir fry, to BBQ with all the fixin’s, our meals add a delicious balance to your work and home life. Order now to plan your next lunch and dinner and get 20% off your meals.

Tips to Stay Productive (And Sane) While Working Remotely

With the impact of recent global events…

Many are finding themselves working from home in an effort to keep workplaces and communities safer. While working from the comfort of your own home seems like a dream, finding ways to stay productive can be a nightmare. In a traditional office, the most common interruptions are co-workers or surprise meetings. At home, your distractions and interruptions come in many forms.

You can quickly find yourself doing a load laundry or binging another season of “The Office” instead of sorting your inbox or meeting deadlines. Distractions can also manifest in human forms of children, spouses or other family members in the home. All this can make working from home more difficult as you look for ways to be more focused and efficient. Time and task management becomes an essential skillset when you are working remotely.

We’ve rounded up the best tips to help you stay productive and to keep you from going a little stir crazy during self-isolation.

Have a routine

When you’re in the office, you have structure. There is a set routine you have that gets you through each workday. When you’re not in the office or working from home, it can be easy for the lines to blur between your home and work life. When working from home, your day will lack the normal structure and routine that you are used to, so you will need to set a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Before the workweek or workday begins, sit down and plan your schedule, starting with breakfast and getting your kids or family settled with their activities. Treat each task and event on your list just as you would at the office.

When setting your schedule, make them realistic. You’ll be working from home for several weeks and you want to be sure to have a routine in place that makes sense for your job and home life balance.

Stay connected to the team

When you’re in the comfort of your own home, it’s easy to put on your favorite playlist and blast your way through your work with little to no interaction from others throughout the day. Even if it feels like you’re being more productive, in the long run, you will start to feel lonely and isolated. The best part of working in a traditional office setting is the sense of belonging and personal connections you forge with your team members and co-workers. To fill the communication void while working from home, look for virtual ways to stay plugged. With channels like Slack, Zoom and screen-sharing platforms like JoinMe, or go GoToMeeting, you have a plethora of options to chat or brainstorm with colleagues.

You can share screens and ideas, or even host meetings to make sure your projects stay on track while you are working from various locations.

Make a dedicated workspace

Even if the arrangement is just temporary, find a dedicated and comfortable place in your home to work from. This way, when you are on or off the clock, you can separate the space between work and home. You are also more productive outside of the comfy zones of your house, like your couch or bed. Your dedicated workspace should preferably have a door you can close for privacy, or be away from high traffic and noise areas in the home. You’re also encouraged to get a comfortable chair, a spacious desk, and a position near a window for sunlight and fresh air.

Move around

All work and no break impact your focus and your productivity. Everyone needs time to step away. Social distancing means limiting your time around others outdoor, but you have plenty of space to move around, stretch your legs, and get fresh air to refuel and refocus. Remember to take your designated lunch break as well as a few breaks through the workday so that your brain has a chance to relax and your body has a chance to re-energize. Working at home means there is no one there to stop you once you get in the zone, and if you’re only thinking of meeting deadlines and checking off tasks, the day can zip by in an instant. Make your scheduled breaks a priority. Step away from your work station and if possible, don’t check work emails or texts until you’ve returned.

Working from home has its perks and also it’s drawbacks, however, losing focus and decreased productivity doesn’t have to be one of them. Find what works best for you and your job and settle into a routine that gets better results from your busy day.

When making your plans don’t forget about lunch and dinner. Big Box has six delicious Heat & Eat meals so that you can focus on work without hassling over dinner plans. Choose your meal and order now.