If the past year and a half have taught us anything (other than how to properly wash our hands and that germs are everywhere) it is that with flexibility we are able to achieve a better work-life balance, and an even better balance within our workday itself. Workers and employers have all had to learn new ways to work, juggling working from home with virtual learning, among so many other challenges. Here are a few ways to help achieve a better balance in your workday.
Organize your day in the morning
By writing out what you need to accomplish in your workday, you will help to keep yourself on task, and have a set end goal to finish your day. If you’re a check lister, the satisfaction of crossing those tasks off can boost your mood and get you more pumped about work. To help avoid getting stuck in emails, it’s helpful to have folders within your inbox and go through them first, to triage your emails when you write out your daily task list.
Respect your lunch break
When we’re busy at work, our lunch break has a tendency to somehow disappear. We eat at our desks, and then wonder why we’re so wrung out by the end of the day. Being able to take time away from our desks is important for not only our mental health, but also our productivity. Humans simply aren’t built to work straight through with no breaks – we need resting and down time in order to maximize our output. If you are having a hard time with coworkers respecting your lunch hour, block that time out in your calendar.
The same advice goes for our regular breaks – if you have a hard time remembering to step away, or know that you will get booked up with meetings, go ahead and block time off daily for your breaks. Most companies give guidelines on breaks (often an hour for lunch, and two 15 minute breaks on either side of lunch), but if your company is more flexible, do what works for you. Do you work well in the morning? Start earlier and take a longer break mid-morning or mid-day to do some self care.
Give yourself self care goals
It may feel weird in our competitive professional society to do self-care tasks during the day – but doing this will help you feel more at peace during your work day, as well as boost that productivity. To avoid having to do extra work on the mental load side, it’s useful to write out a list of good self-care tasks that you are able to do during the workday and keep it at your desk for when you need them. Examples of this could be taking a walk, doing a short workout (or long depending on how you schedule out your day!), or reading a book. If you work from home, you could even take a midday bath, or spend time with a pet.
Set boundaries and stick to them
Boundary setting can be uncomfortable, especially for many women who have been ingrained with the idea that they need to be compromising and friendly to succeed. While being compromising and friendly certainly has its place, at the end of the day you need to do what you have to do to prioritize yourself. This may mean uncomfortable conversations with coworkers and supervisors to remind them that you finish work at 5:00 and will not be answering calls or texts after that point. When these boundaries have been set, stick to them! They will pay off in your mental health in the long run.
Now is the best time to have an honest conversation with your manager about what you need in order to find balance within your work day and with your home life – whether it’s shifting your hours because you’re a night owl and the thought of functioning at 8 am gives you anxiety, adjusting to a hybrid work from home schedule so you can get your kids off the bus in the afternoon, or whatever you need in order to feel balanced.