Do you remember when a parent or grandparent first explained the basics of personal finances to you? It probably came in the form of this statement: “Don’t spend it all in one place.” And when you were standing in the toy aisle, holding crisp dollar bills in your hand, you began to understand. The basics are this: You only have a certain amount, and when you spend it, it’s gone. If only we began to see our lives with this simple concept. We only have a certain amount of energy, focus, and time. And when we spend it, it’s gone. In order to have truly fulfilling lives, it’s best not to spend it all in one place. The temptation is to overspend our time and energy in one area: work. We believe this is noble and necessary. However, we will actually be more productive when we allocate our time and energy to other things—things that give our minds and bodies rest, things that bring us joy and energize us. In the long run, this allocation multiplies our mental and physical capacity, enabling us to give more to our work, be more productive, and more efficient. All while protecting us from burnout.
Whether you are commuting to the office or working from home, establishing clear boundaries between home life and work life is key. Here are seven ways you can maintain a healthy work-life balance and increase your capacity to be productive and present in all areas of your life.
1. Turn Off Your Devices After Work
At the end of the workday at the office, you turn off your computer, gather your things, and say goodbye to coworkers as you head to the car. But your phone pings when emails come in or new tasks are assigned by those still working. If you work remotely, your living space has become your office, and “shutting down” at the end of the day is almost non-existent unless you establish a process for turning things off at the end of traditional work hours. As a leader, set the standard for your team. Don’t send emails or continue working late into the evening. You can help your team set healthy boundaries by turning off your laptop, silencing your phone, or turning off notifications until the next morning.
2. Wake Up Earlier
If you no longer commute, the temptation may be to sleep until the last minute, roll out of bed and open your laptop while coffee brews. With no morning routine and no drive to the office, there’s little space to gather your thoughts, listen to music, or take a minute for yourself. You can increase your mental capacity by waking up earlier and giving yourself time to read a book, eat breakfast, sit on your porch, or exercise. Before you begin pouring out your energy into your work, gain some energy by taking care of yourself first.
3. Eat the Elephant
Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner and human-rights activist, is quoted as saying, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.” The “elephant” is not a gigantic animal, but a gigantic project, goal, or challenge. His encouragement was simple. Daunting tasks can be accomplished by taking them one small step at a time. When you have a looming project that feels overwhelming, you may organize your day by accomplishing smaller tasks first, procrastinating on the biggest assignment. Most people have the most energy and mental capacity to actually tackle bigger projects and challenges first. Try taking a “small bite” out of your biggest “elephant” first thing in the morning and leave smaller, easier tasks for later in the day when your mental capacity and creativity are diminishing.
4. Take Regular Breaks
Whether at home or at the office, take regular breaks from your work. “Powering through” is not always the most beneficial tactic. Walk away from your computer, step outside, stretch your legs, and rest your eyes. Fluorescent overhead lighting and blue light from your computer monitor make your eyes tired and your brain foggy. After a few minutes, you can come back to the task with an energized mind.
5. Don’t Take Work on a Lunch Date
Friends make good lunch dates. So does a good book, a good meal, or a change of scenery. Your work doesn’t. When you step away from your desk to clear your mind and fill your time with something enjoyable, you can produce more in the afternoon hours. A non-working lunch can increase creativity and focus while promoting self-care.
6. Socialize Before a Meeting
Socializing throughout the workday is a good thing. Unfortunately, this element of connecting with others regularly has decreased significantly since Covid. If the majority of your team is working from home, many may hop on a virtual meeting, listen and take notes, then sign off. So, whether your team gathers in person or online for a meeting, take initiative to encourage connection and socialization. Start the meeting 10 to 15 minutes early and allow your team to talk and enjoy each other’s company before getting to the meeting agenda.
7. Make a Fresh To-Do List
At the end of the day, rather than looking at your to-do list and trying to cram in a few more tasks, make a fresh list. Consider what you’d like to accomplish and try to organize your day around a new task list. You can “shut down” with confidence that the assignments will be completed the following day while also reserving time to invest in your own wellbeing.
For more tips on how to effectively manage a team virtually, or to establish a healthy company culture that increases productivity and employee engagement, contact us at Trinity Training & Development.