Remote work is here to stay in one form or another for some companies and teams around the world. Yet, despite the benefits that work from home has to offer, there are drawbacks too. And one of the most often cited challenges is the absence of a remote work-life balance.
In the past year, more people have started working from home than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic closed down businesses and many of those still standing strong are now working remotely. While most people are happy to work from the comfort of their own home, it also makes it difficult to separate work from personal life. In US, no less than 7 in 10 remote employees are struggling to achieve a healthy remote work life balance during this pandemic.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be difficult in today’s culture that celebrates being always on. In fact, 94 percent of 1,000 professionals surveyed by the Harvard Business Review said they put in 50 or more hours a week at work. What’s more, nearly half that group clocked in more than 65 hours a week.
In today’s always on workplace culture, where employees are rewarded and oftentimes expected to work long hours and communicate continuously, balance can be hard to find. In fact, more and more people are prioritizing work over their personal lives, tipping the scales toward burnout and stress.
Vacation is that time of the year when you finally relax and disconnect from daily stress. And most people can’t wait for it! However, some can’t really afford it either due to a lack of money or time. While workers in Europe are entitled to up to 30 days of paid vacation time every year, in the U.S. companies are totally free to choose whether they want to give their workforce any paid vacation at all.
Someone once said “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” Okay, well, it was the sage wisdom of Mrs. Gump, but regardless, it’s a great metaphor for how unpredictable life can be. Sometimes it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, sometimes it’s disappointing, and other times it’s so incredible you need to stop and savor the moment because you know that it’s fleeting. This rings true in every facet of our day-to-day, especially in professional settings. There is so much that is beyond our control, so how we approach life directly impacts our work attitude and how we navigate our workday.
While there are many approaches, there are 4 that have a big impact on success.
Look around at any airport and you’ll see people surrounding outlets, sitting on their laptops and phones. According to the State of the Remote Job Marketplace report, 43 percent of the workforce works remotely at least some of the time. A major perk of distributed work is the ability to be traveling while on the clock.
Prioritizing your work life might not seem very easy, when everything you have to do feels important. Taking things as they come, without having a strategy, usually throws you into chaos, where you running a race against time day after day. Eventually, this continuous fight is likely to lead to burnout and dramatically affect your life.
Here are 7 “safety measures” that will hopefully help you fight the chaos and reclaim your productivity.
1. State your core values
Write down the most important things in your life – those that you wouldn’t give up for anything, no matter what.
A simple way to do that is by designing a chart of the most important areas of your life:
Next, you should write down your top three priorities for each area.
Once you do that, make sure to invest 80% of your time and most of your efforts into accomplishing the items on your chart. The rest of the time should be allocated to completing other tasks that need to be done.
2. Organize your schedule to reflect your values
Simple and intuitive, your schedule should be focused around your non-negotiable core values.
The amount of time you assign to each of your tasks reflects your true priorities. Very often people dedicate more time to less important tasks, losing sight of what truly matters. Avoid taking on menial tasks and learn to delegate those assignments that don’t necessarily require your expertise.
3. Schedule each day efficiently
One of the easiest strategies for efficient scheduling is the 1-3-5 method. This means that your daily schedule will feature one very important task; three tasks of medium importance; and five little things.
Filling your calendar chaotically usually leads to unbalanced situations when you have accomplished tens of small things, leaving to the end of the week the most important tasks. That will make you frustrated and unhappy, putting you in situations when you have to give up on some areas of your life for the sake of the others. Usually, you end up sacrificing personal life in favor of your work. Yet, achieving a healthy work-life balance is the only way to live a happy and fulfilled life.
4. Identify urgent tasks
I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent. – Eisenhower
Eisenhower inspired productivity experts to create what is called The Eisenhower Matrix for prioritizing tasks. The matrix uses the urgency and importance values to make your work life easier, as shown below.
Productive work is oftentimes unattainable. Very often we end up doing futile work on things unrelated to our productivity. And, by all standards, work should be productive. Yet, other than procrastination, there are countless reasons why it’s tough to do productive work. Most of the time, work inertia makes it hard to change things for the better. Chiefly, having spend so much time training to do things a certain way makes us reluctant to change.
Imagine, however, that you could bring forth change with a few tiny tweaks. Nothing too complex, no relearning or brain rewiring. Instead of huge changes that might not even work for you, try the shortest path to change. Tiny tweaks for productive work means that you invest as little as possible to get the greatest possible return.
Reward teams and you get to build motivation, boosts productivity and develops team trust. Indeed, offering people recognition boosts their self-esteem, confidence and happiness at work.
Some other advantages are increased employee engagement, less staff turnover, higher customer satisfaction ratings and the fact that organization grows in its sense of purpose. To be sure, there are plenty other good reasons to reward teams. But only a few great ways to do it.