Balance in working from home
In working from home I’ve definitely been stressed, but I also feel like I’ve experienced less stress and exhaustion than I would have before this pandemic started, when I had to go to the office every weekday. It’s quite interesting digging into why this is the case.
Balance has always been important to me. I recently revisited my values and motivations post that I wrote about two years ago, and the importance of balance in my life is as important to me now as it was back then.
I admit that I have been working long hours at my desk sometimes, but other days, I feel exhausted and I decide to stop working. When I work long hours, I don’t work against my will or force myself to work on tasks that I don’t enjoy. It helps that I work for a company that is quite flexible, and all my colleagues are very understanding.
I wanted to write about a few thoughts I have around what is important to consider when it comes to balancing a life that is mostly at home but involves both work and personal time.
I think it’s important to respect yourself and your health if you’re working from home and especially if you’re like me, and most of your hobbies are digital ones too. I definitely get exhausted of looking at a screen, and I definitely feel fatigued after many Zoom calls.
It’s also important not to feel guilty for doing things, or not doing things. I recently finished my personal website (georgiecooke.com) after what I’m pretty sure was almost two years of putting it off. While many people started working on unfinished projects or started new projects at the beginning of this pandemic, I decided to take my time. I only worked on my personal website once I had the inspiration and the motivation to. The inspiration, funnily enough, did come from work. 😆 When you code both at work and in your spare time, I guess you sometimes come across a little overlap.
Setting realistic targets and goals is important, too. When I started working on my personal website, I had so much motivation that I spent a whole weekend working on it. Although most of it was complete, I knew it wasn’t ready to launch, and I knew that I would probably not have a lot of energy to work on it during the week because I would have to work. So I didn’t set a target to complete it that weekend, even though I’d spent a lot of time on it already. A more realistic goal would be to chip away at it, and complete it by the end of the following weekend. And I did it, and I didn’t feel pressured or stressed by an unrealistic goal.
Targets and goals can change over time. To refrain from changing them, or making them so inflexible, can cause stress to build up over time as a deadline inches closer. Even if the deadline is one you set yourself and there are no dependencies! You need to allow yourself enough time, maybe even more than enough, because having a bit of time to relax is better than trying to cram a goal into a tight space of time.
When it came to my recent Travel Throwback Tuesdays posts, I wanted to prepare them ahead of time and finish them by April, but the deadline was too stressful for me. It collided with many things I had going on at work, and it was not going to be possible for me to maintain both those things and be in good mental health by the end of it. It simply wasn’t a good time to be prioritising that. I wanted to do well at work, and something had to give. Now, three months from when I wanted to finish the series, I’ve written a few posts from that series, all two weeks apart, and I actually wanted them to be just one week apart in the beginning. But I’m OK with the progress I’ve made. I’m not beating myself up about it. I’m actually glad I’ve made some progress.
Sometimes deadlines aren’t even a good thing. I’ve learned that when it comes to personal projects, making some progress and gradually working on something over time until the project is complete or until I’m happy with it, is less stressful than trying to make a deadline to finish it. I definitely believe in “progress not perfection”. It’s OK to take pride in what you do and make sure it is the best work, but as a whole, and on a larger scale, doing a little bit of something each day is worthy of applause. It is also so much healthier than dragging yourself to a deadline that you made yourself.
If you are really struggling to deal with stress, it’s OK to seek professional help. Mental health assistance can come in the form of professional therapy, psychology, or a uniquely tailored treatment such as that provided by the banyans.
Make sure you get organised with an app or reminders on your phone or computer. I’ve tried so many todo list apps, but I believe it’s worth downloading a few and see what works for your workflow. I personally use an app called Things, which is paid, and probably out of some people’s budget. But there are free, easy-to-use websites/apps like Trello, which has functionality to create columns and label tasks, so it’s a step up from a basic checklist. Over time you might find what works for you, even if it is just to jot things down on pen and paper.
Lastly, remember to take a break – move, get outside, get some sun. 🌞 A five-minute break every hour even just to get away from a screen and go for a walk and clear your head can help you de-stress and return to a more focused state. Exercise is also a wonderful way to get your heart rate up and keep yourself in good physical health, as well as supplementing your mental health.
I hope you’re all doing well especially if you’re trying to balance everything at home. If you have any additional thoughts, drop them in the comments 💖