How To Maintain A Balance Between Work And Social Life Post-Pandemic
Updated: Apr 15
Due to the global pandemic everyone’s life has drastically changed over the past couple of years. One of the unusual factors has been the sudden shift to working from home. This is causing some people to experience working longer hours while facing unprecedented stress. This stress factor has drastically increased due to the efficiency of digital connectivity, which has caused a behavioural shift were people are challenged to disconnect, which is resulting in a noticeable blurring between work and home.
With this theme in mind I will be discussing some strategies that will help manage a healthier work-life balance.
Create A Schedule:
Begin with conducting self analysis to determine your previous work related habits. Where you a morning person or night owl? Since your natural circadian sleep rhythm has your internal “alarm clock”, which determines when you are the most “bright and perky self”. This will determine your peak performance schedule. If you determine that you are a morning person then you will block off a few hours in the early morning so you can get a “head start” on your work. Look at it as being nothing different from you pre-pandemic work-life when you would go to the office early. Use the extra time to your advantage.
Slot your schedule into blocks of time you designate for different tasks: responding to emails, taking phone calls, joining meetings, doing your actual work, having your meals, family time, and just about anything else.
From a personal perspective I always ensured to slot a one-hour period in my schedule that allowed me the opportunity to attend the gym for a work out. Numerous studies have revealed this exercise activity is extremely beneficial to reduce stress by regulating the release of cortisol. After exercising the stress hormones drop and anxiety fade away, leaving us in a more relaxed state for the rest of the work day. There are some open source research studies that suggested exercising during work boosted performance of employees, less sick time and created a more positive work environment.
Set Clearly Defined Boundaries:
This is extremely important in maintaining a healthy work-personal life balance. From a personal
perspective I spent years being the On-Call person for major and critical incidents occurring in our
Canadian city with a population of 1.3 million. This experience was a contributing factor in my work related PTSD and sleep apnea. Through counselling and research I learned the importance of setting a clear boundary to ensure I blocked off time for a soft start-stop that allows others to know when I am available. Now, working a day shift gig, I now advise people that I am available between 7:30am to 11:00am. Then I take an hour for exercise, as you probably have determined, this is an important factor in my recovery and maintaining a work-personal life balance. Then I advise people I am available from noon to 5:00pm.
However, this schedule is not "set in stone" since we should have some flexibility in our work schedule. There will be days when we have reached a suitable stopping point and we will have to adapt accordingly. Once others are aware of our schedule, they generally make an effort to fit all requests within that time period.
Create a designated workspace:
Consider replicating your designated workspace in the office to your home office. It’s important to have a physical separation between your workspace and your living area so you can psychologically separate your work-life from your personal-life. A home office allows you to enter an area that is solely for work.
Of course, not everyone has a home office but there are good alternatives. If you live in an apartment, you can transform an area, perhaps the couch, into your workspace. Once work is over for the day, pack up all work-related items and remove them completely from the area since “Out of sight, out of mind” reestablishes this theme of work-life balance. If you live with a significant other, try working in separate areas to minimize distractions during work hours.
Here are a few more simple tips to maintain your work-life balance:
Maintain a similar work-life philosophy were you take mental breaks. Step away from screens (laptops, phones, TVs, and tablets) and get outside for short periods of time.
I have always done meal prepping, since I found this maximized my work time during my shift.
Maintain your regular work schedule and whenever possible avoid working on weekends.
Most important is to schedule family and social time.
From a quote I recently read. “Other things may change, but we start and end with family”.
Dedicate some time for yourself or family activities where you are completely disconnected from work. Depending on your work situation, you may not be able to completely unplug. However, make an effort to put the work phone away and shut down your computer. Consider leaving an “Out of Office” message with your cell phone number, if and only when, there is an emergency situation. This again demonstrates flexibility. You are making it clear that you are not actively checking your work email, but you are still reachable if something blows up. From personal experience I have had to contact someone in a similar situation and definitely thought twice about the urgency of the request before contacting them since they had their “Oout of Office” messaging.
Going further, you can also help others manage their work-life balance by thinking twice about when you send emails. Considering people’s urgency to reply, try to avoid sending non-essential emails outside of work hours if possible. What if you were the recipient? You would probably think about the matter all night or until you get it done. If it’s not urgent, save it for tomorrow.
Although you will now have a schedule along with clear boundaries, there will be times where you will be tested on your set goals and schedules and where you will have to make some sacrifices. For those who are quite sociable, you will have to sometimes say no to friends if going out with them will mess with your schedule.
In closing, I encourage you to revisit your breakdown once a month to see how successful you were in terms of spending your time and balancing work and personal time. Do some self analysis with an important question. “Am I achieving a noticeable work-life balance?”. I would encourage you to seek feedback from those who are closest to you since they are one of the important factors in your quest to achieve a healthy balance.
I hope my personal experiences and knowledge of establishing a balance between work and personal life has been insightful for you.
I wish you all the best in your personal endeavor in establishing a healthier work-personal lifestyle.
About The Author: Steve is a Christian Blogger, Videographer, and Personal Trainer. His content creation focuses on Societal Lifestyles, Health/Fitness and Faith.