Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to go on yet another walk (a great pandemic activity) with a good friend of mine who has been working remotely for the past 10 months. Brian, who typically travels, had not been on a plane since March. He was lamenting all the hours he was putting in, even though he is working remotely. He was also talking about the stress associated with multitasking at home, with kids, life stuff, and his full-time job. He seemed totally exhausted. Can you relate? I sure can.
Work/life balance has always been something that is important to our well-being. BMC Public Health recently conducted a study that found a direct link between a well-managed work/life balance and one’s own health. In other words, the better you can juggle different areas of your life, the better you will feel.
Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong!
I think for a lot of us, this is something that is easier said than done. No matter how good our intentions are, it’s often too easy to get caught up in a work project and miss family time or vice versa. The balance of work and life has always presented us with a challenge, especially when we are working from home.
Recently, I had a conversation with a colleague, Jessica, who has had to adjust to a “new normal” of work/life balance. When COVID-19 started closing schools, her children had to start learning from home while she continued to work out of an office. This new rhythm required her to completely redesign how she goes about both being a parent and engaging her work. Her main challenge involved monitoring her kids and their schoolwork while still performing well on the job. Jessica explained that a new kind of thinking had to emerge for her in order to make this work.
The key to success for Jessica was reaching out and asking for help when she needed it. She explained her situation to her supervisor at work and to her kids at home. Together with all parties involved, she was able to redesign her day-to-day schedule and by all accounts, has achieved a great balance between work and life, even in a pandemic.
Jessica had to reevaluate what she knew in order to thrive in her management of work/life balance. While not completely starting over, her methodology needed somewhat of an overhaul due to circumstances beyond her control. To get you started down the same path, here are some things to consider:
- The first step is to identify the biggest areas of change in your routine. For Jessica, it was that her kids were no longer going to school in person, and she was still working out of the office. Find the areas of change in your life and acknowledge that they might create some new challenges.
- After you have done that, it is important that you make a distinction between work and home, to the point of calendaring what gets your attention when. Maybe this means not checking your work email outside of certain hours or leaving your home office once you’re done with work for the day. This could also mean that you take a two-hour break during the day, to attend to home-related items, and work later during the day at your job, etc.
- Embrace the opportunities that this moment has given to us. Though it is easy to dwell on the negatives in a situation like this, it is important that we reflect on what has been good as well. For instance, I think working from home, Zoom meetings, and online classes have all made us better with technology! This technology has also allowed us to be with friends and loved ones more than we had ever imagined (or wanted to … haha).
- Finally, take Jessica’s advice and ask for help when you need it. This may sound like a cliche at this point, but we are living in uncertain times. There is no shame in reaching out to others when you need help.
Balancing your time between work and home life is something that takes continual practice. Just when you think you figured it out, something changes, right? Despite this, we can be resilient in the face of the challenges caused by the pandemic. If we own our choices and follow some simple guidelines, we can balance these two worlds and become the best and healthiest version of ourselves!
Yasser Youssef is the president of The Budd Group, one of the leading facility service companies in the country, a North Carolina-based company that provides facility support services in the Southeast. Throughout his career, Youssef has met leaders from all backgrounds, and believes leadership is for everyone. Over the past few years, he has developed an affinity for writing and contributing thought leadership, and is often asked to speak to businesses throughout the country about authentic leadership.