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The mass movement to remote work that began in 2020 is showing no sign of slowing down over a year later. For many parents, the long-term prospect of remote work has left them desperate for an answer to one of the toughest work from home challenges of them all: finding balance.
If you’re still struggling with work-life balance as you continue to work through COVID, it’s time to take some major steps to address the issue. Below are several simple yet powerful ways that you can compartmentalize your remote work activities so that you can keep your family’s connections strong for the foreseeable future.
Reassess Your Boundaries — Often
Boundaries are constantly discussed during work from home situations — and with good reason, too. If you don’t have clearly defined boundaries in your home, it’s very easy for the lines between things like work, family, and even school to quickly blur.
Chances are, a year into the pandemic, you’ve already tried to set up boundaries. The question is, are you still sticking to them? Do your children still work at their virtual school in the same area? Do you work in a dedicated home office? Do you rest in other areas of your home? Is your bed still exclusively reserved for sleeping?
Start the process by reviewing your boundaries and ensuring that you’re still respecting and utilizing them properly. If you find that they need to be adjusted at this point, don’t be afraid to do that, too.
Review Your Schedules
When your time is fragmented, it can be difficult to get things done. When you’re talking about an entire family of individuals who are operating with a fragmented and complex series of overlapping schedules, the entire situation at home can quickly become overwhelming.
Much like your boundaries, it’s also a good idea to review your collective family schedule. As you do so, look for signs of concern. For instance, a few questions to ask include:
- Is your family spending too little quality time together? Or too much?
- Has your children’s screentime spiked during the pandemic?
- Has your work slowly consumed more of your day over the last year?
As you review your current schedule, consider creating a universal family calendar, as well. Use a cloud-based site or an app that can help you unify your family’s collective activity into one organized calendar. This also can help you plan purposeful family time to spend together.
Create Family Routines
Routines are another great way to help your family stay in touch as you go about your individual activities in the same space. A good daily schedule can help you maintain regular routines as you exercise, shower, and stop for meals consistently.
Daily routines also allow you to capitalize on things like eating meals together or sticking to bedtime and morning routines as a family.
Unplugging is a powerful way to avoid slipping into a constant state of work-life imbalance. If you choose to deliberately leave your work behind in your workspace, it can help you create a sense of disconnection that normally comes when you leave the office.
If you want to take things even further, you can plan unplugging events for your entire family. Schedule a time to unplug from all of your devices and simply be together or create electronic-free zones throughout your house. This can encourage everyone to put down their gadgets and interact with one another when they’re eating in the kitchen, in their bedrooms, and so on.
Finally, make sure to keep lines of communication open at all times. This goes for all and sundry.
On the family side of the equation, you must strive to talk about things with your loved ones regularly. If you utilize child care it’s also wise to keep your caretakers in on the communication and scheduling loop as well to help smooth the path toward maintaining that balance in your home.
When it comes to work, communication is critical. If you’re working remotely, your bosses and coworkers won’t have the same intimate knowledge of your schedule, workload, and other aspects of your workday as they would if you worked a few feet away from each other.
This makes it particularly important to regularly express your remote working needs to your employer. This can include things like equipment and scheduling. When it comes to boundaries and work-life balance, though, it’s just as important to set clear expectations, provide feedback, and generally keep your professional peers in the know.
Keeping a Healthy Work-Life Balance for the Long-Term
If you’re gearing up to work from home for the long-term, you must take the move seriously. By introducing work into your home, you naturally throw off the personal ecosystem that your family already has established.
This is okay, as long as you take the necessary steps to set boundaries, stay on a schedule, and keep your family connected over time. If you can do this, you can crush your work from home lifestyle, enjoying all of the benefits and minimizing the challenges for as long as you find yourself laboring on the homefront.
This is a guest post from Luke Smith. Luke is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but relationship topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.