When quarantine first hit, everything changed. You went from working 9-5 to working whenever your kids were quiet for a few minutes: early morning, after bedtime and on weekends. Your counterparts without kids then felt bad for logging off at 5 pm since you were working later and longer, so they worked at night and on weekends, too. The pandemic brought to an abrupt halt any form of work/life balance you had previously established.
That was months ago, though, so let’s stop and reflect. Do you still need to be working at 7 pm every night and on weekends? The answer is most likely no, or at least, not every night/weekend. If you’re going to sustain this pace through the next 6+ months, you need to give yourself a break.
The need for work/life balance, especially during the pandemic.
There was a reason we all talked about work/life balance before the pandemic and that reason still exists. With Covid-19, a new normal arose for both work and life and after this long, you probably have figured out what is best for you. So, make a daily to do list, get organized, talk to your boss and walk away from your work at the end of the day. More hours don’t always mean more productivity. Get some fresh air, a good night’s rest and come back with renewed energy and focus the next day.
Go on vacation. Seriously.
Have you taken vacation time? A lot of people haven’t because, “Why? Where would I go?” As someone who just took a break and visited family, I can tell you from personal experience that you need it – and you need it more than you think.
Have you noticed that your jaw or your muscles are almost always tight? Turns out they can relax when you have a break from work and you’re visiting loved ones in a Covid-safe way. You need to see people you love. FaceTime and video chats help in the meantime, but nothing replaces seeing your friends, family and coworkers in-person. Figure out a way to do it safely, and do it now. The predictions sound like things may be worse in the coming months, so don’t wait. Being with those you care about lets you refill your soul in a way that nothing else can.
Find your circus.
Have you found your circus? In the children’s book, “Put Me in the Zoo” by Robert Lopshire, the large spotted animal gets kicked out of the zoo. He’s upset and confused, wondering why did they put him out this way? He wanted to stay.
The pandemic has been a time for everyone to reflect on their lives, their work and their locations. If you’re feeling angst that isn’t directed at the crisis, then maybe it’s time to reflect. Do you live in the city and yearn for a home and yard? Do you have a job you used to love but no longer matches who you are? Were you laid off due to a down market?
Go for a walk, write things down, talk them out with a trusted friend and see if there’s a change you want to make. Turns out for the large, spotted animal in the book was meant for the circus, not the zoo. The zoo didn’t feel he was a fit, but the circus thought his colorful, color-changing spots were amazing, and they appreciated him for his hidden talents. He didn’t change who he was; he just needed to find the right home.
Refill your bucket.
One of the hardest aspects of work/life balance during the pandemic is that we don’t know where the finish line is. If we knew it was ending next month, then you could drag yourself through with whatever reserve of energy and mental fortitude you have left. Instead, we know there is a potential that it will drag on for several more months, and that some periods of time will be worse than others.
Think about more months of this. Does it feel impossible? Then you really need to refill your bucket or you’re going to be miserable. Try something new like:
- taking a walk every day before work
- listening to a light-hearted podcast
- playing a new game with your kids
- coloring during long work calls
- driving home from the grocery store a new way each time
- trying a new restaurant for take-out
- having a silly dance party
- getting a different type of coffee
- texting your friends a dumb joke each day
- cooking a new recipe
- having dates on your porch with your loved ones at the end of a long day
When you’re in a rut and you don’t change anything, you’ll keep feeling tired and unmotivated. But when you acknowledge and honor the fact that you deserve something new, a change, something to spark your creativity, something that makes you excited or lets you feel a moment of normalcy – you’re all the better for it. So, invest time in yourself and reap the rewards. You’ll realize work/life balance can exist during the pandemic. We can do this; we just needed a break to refresh.
Photo credit: Jeremy Thomas on UnsplashWork / life balance | Working remotely