Work From Home & Work-Life Balance Don’t Mix
Work from home strategies and work-life balance don’t mix. Work-life balance is not something I subscribe to. I mean the idea is a noble one if indeed it means to make room for both work and “life”. But what if you love your work. What if you love the impact you have on your livelihood? What if you work IN the home as a stay at home mom or dad?
That is why I normally subscribe to the notion of Work/Life Integration instead. I believe demonstrating to my family that having work with purpose is a meaningful way to express who you are while being who you were meant to be.
Showing my children what it’s like to drive towards your passion IS what I’m supposed to do as a dad. Work/Life Balance seems to be asking me to turn that away. That’s why I choose integration
BUT… That also assumes I am on the other end of the work you butt off continuum that has most of us struggling to make time with our families.
With the COVID19 Quarantine and many of us observing the Shelter in Place orders, we are all thrown into a world of seamless integration. AND we aren’t ready for it.
Here are a few ways we are struggling and some things we can do about it. Remember, awareness is the key to live a conscious life.
I remember it like it was three weeks ago… because it was. We got word from the office to work from home to avoid spreading the virus. Being totally honest, I was happy to comply. I have a great team that I have a deep amount of trust in to get work done. They are nimble, devoted, and look out for each other too. I wasn’t worried about getting things done.
What I should have been worried about is over-working. Yep. It’s a thing. I recognized it in my own efforts after week one. You spend the day glued to your screen in an effort to “keep focused” and honestly not appear disconnected.
News flash! We are disconnected.
What I was not doing was observing the same daily milestones that signal a break in the work day that I would normally observe. Things like:
- Driving to work
- Grabbing my coffee
- Saying hi to my team
- Going for a walk at lunch (I normally do this)
- Closing my computer
- Leaving the office and its worries behind (for the most part)
Set Some Daily Signals
All of daily milestones send signals to my brain that the day is over and I need to prepare to be at home. I don’t have that anymore and the result was terrible.
I felt like I never quit working because I didn’t. After meals, I’d go back into my office and work some more. I’d work into the night and first thing when I woke up.
This is terrible! Your physical body wasn’t built for that. So here’s what I started doing.
- Plan out a home routine and write it down
- Build in some milestones that signal when to get to work and when to stop
- Remind myself that we are in a unique situation and work will be different
I realized that work/life balance was actually a thing. We are now on the other end of the continuum of Compartmentalization and Integration. I now needed some compartmentalization.
Truly all things in moderation… hmmm.
Surprise! You’re A Homeschool Teacher
I love helping my kids learn. The occasional, “Dad, I need you to check my math.” I had gotten used to and I actually love it. I mean checking math sucks, but helping my kids is great.
Now we are in a world where we have become Teachers along with parents.
We are not equipped. First off… Teachers… I haven’t thanked you personally in the last three weeks, THANK YOU.
This is hard! There is, of course, the teaching point, but now we are realizing that there is a lot more going on.
I talked to some of my friends going through this to get some answers. Some are in the same boat as us, kids in a traditional school, and some that have been home-schooling for 10 plus years. Here are a few things I found out.
Kids are going to do about 2-3 hours of “learning” a day on a lesson plan. But their attention span is short. Do not expect your kids to be sitting in front of a screen for 8 hours reading, doing math problems, writing essays, or anything else. That is not how it’s done.
Quick Tips For Homeschooling:
- Breaks – Look for opportunities to take a break every hour and go for a walk, ride their bikes, do their chores.
- Set Daily Goals – Utilize real work productivity rules. At the beginning of the day, set a goal of what to accomplish for the day that includes their lesson plan and some physical activity.
- Block Time Like a Pro – Build the learning into blocks of time. Spend no more than an hour on a subject then move on.
[bctt tweet=”Quick Tips for Homeschooling when working from home” username=”@f3_jedi”]
Stop Running a Diner
My friend and his wife realized they were basically running a diner. They’d get up, make a short-order breakfast, and clean the kitchen. A couple of hours later, they would repeat the same activity for lunch. Then, you guessed it, a few hours later they’d repeat the process for dinner.
Keep in mind that not all of the “normal” food is there because of the run on meat at the grocery stores. That means the only thing not in short-order were the complaints.
We want to feed our families and we want to provide. Do whatever it takes to make our families mentally survive is what is on our minds. That is all perfectly normal.
What isn’t normal is working ourselves to death doing it.
Here are some ideas to break up the Diner Mentality:
- Plan the meals for the week (based on what you have)
- Plan meals that the kids can prepare for the family (frozen pizzas, etc.)
- Assign each family member a meal to prepare and the reward is they don’t have to clean
- Each family member that is not cooking gets a specific cleaning job for the kitchen. Rotate these for each meal
- Prepare some “grab-n-go” meals that don’t make a mess in the kitchen. Premake sandwiches or soups that can be reheated
- Do a fend for yourself night (if your kids are old enough) and for once let cereal be ok for dinner
Entertaining the family
“I’m bored.” I hear it all day long. Many times out of my own mouth. Reminds of something my Granny told me.
“It’s good to be bored. All creativity is born out of boredom.”
She’s right, but now what. Our family has reached the end of TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter. We’ve reached the end of the internet and we are BORED.
Here is a list of activities that helped us to break the boredom a little.
- Take a walk after dinner – Walk by a neighbors house, text them to come to the door and say hello from a safe distance
- Ride bikes for lunch – take those pre-made sandwiches for a quick picnic. Having the destination will spice up the day and create an awesome memory
- Break out the board games – Don’t have them? Try Pictionary. Use some copy paper and pencils if you have to. This can get fun by picking a theme and tallying points.
- Do a Family Reunion Zoom call. Pick a topic for memory lane and let the convo run wild.
Fear and anxiety management
We are all a little scared right now if we are honest. None of us know what this truly means for our futures. Many of us have faith that this will pass, but some of us do not.
Fear is born from that which we do not know.
We fuel our fear by feeding it more uncertainty. The news media, although trying to provide a service, often does a disservice by creating the hype. They have to get the ratings.
After the Fairness Doctrine was abolished in 2011, all news media in the US were no longer required by law to offer opposing viewpoints when presenting controversial topics. That means they were free to entertain based on their organization’s viewpoints.
Holding your attention by over-reporting does you no good. Try these to punch fear in the face:
- Stop watching the news on loop
- Learn what to do if you suspect you are exposed to the virus
- Have an action plan to do it.
- Write down your action plan. Share it with your family. Be proactive about it. (The last thing you want is to be scrambling to sift through thousands of emails about what to do when you’re sick.)
Knowing what to do and having a plan to do it will give you the confidence you need to turn off the news on loop and live your life.
Mandating social hours
In the need for us all to feel connected with our work teams, many managers scrambled to “keep connected”. We mandated daily calls to keep people’s spirits up during the isolation.
Some leaders felt it unnecessary and didn’t bother.
FACT: in the beginning it was unnecessary. However, now social interaction is more important than ever.
There is a balance you need to strike though. Get work done by having a daily huddle for work tasks, commitments, and help needed. Make it short as you can but as long as you need it. Let your team know that you’ve scheduled an hour, but you hope to only need 15 minutes.
Also, scheduling ONE happy hour for the week is totally cool. Tell folks to bring their favorite beverage and do you Zoom call. Choose a team-related, but not a task-related topic.
Here are few topics you can use:
- Funny office stories
- Funniest memes (appropriate of course)
- Favorite movie quotes appropriate for quarantine
- First job
- Funniest interview story (as long as none of your team is in it or at least totally cool with it)
Finding Our Way
We are truly all in this together. Rich. Poor. Young. Old. It doesn’t matter. Everyone is observing the quarantine or at least they are experiencing it.
In a time when our nation has many differing views, we are all brought together in our challenges with this virus.
Learning to deal with a few of the common issues we face is just one way will show who we really are.