Creating a work/life balance feels absolutely daunting, doesn’t it? But there is good news: you can take concrete steps to manage and avoid overwhelm. Check out these tips for creating space between your work life and your personal life.
Our living spaces are now our work spaces. Our spaces of relaxation are now the spaces we use when we need quiet during a work call. Where we spend time with family, sleep, eat, and relax, is now also the space where we hop in and out of zoom work calls, crunch numbers, meet deadlines, and engage in an area of life that almost half of all Americans associate with their stress.
It was easier to create a work/life balance before COVID-19. With the majority of us not yet working in the remote space, we had a physical place for work and a different place for life. But with the way of work changing drastically over these last few months, questions around a work/life balance have grown in importance.
Continue reading to gain some practical steps towards creating a better balance between your work and your personal life.
- Treat yourself with compassion
Understand that as a woman of color, we are always asked to perform more labor than our peers. Not only this, but the standards are also often higher. This means that, at some point or another, we had to set higher standards for ourselves, too. Once we realize this, the process of unlearning will be tough. Be patient and practice compassion.
- Do not seek perfection
When you try to go from grind mode to a more sustainable level, the process will most likely not be easy. Your journey towards finding the balance between work and personal life will be messy, especially at the beginning stages. And even when you do create a routine, you might have days where you edge towards your bad habits. But so long as you constantly strive for improvement and not perfection, your journey will never be stagnant.
- Learn to say no
Revisit your contract or signing agreement. Write down a list of what your current responsibilities or projects are. Now compare the two. Is there a large disparity between the two lists? If there is, it is time to 1) schedule a conversation with your superiors, or 2) ask yourself if you are saying yes too much. If #2 applies to you, ask why: do you say yes because you want to genuinely engage with all the work being offered to you, or because you want to please everyone?
- Apologize less
And as you start to say “no” to more projects, you need to simultaneously apologize less. Make this change in the smallest ways to start. For example, if you are late to a meeting or delayed a response don’t say, “Sorry for being late!”
Instead, say, “Thank you for your patience.”
Rather than saying, “I’m sorry for not being able to participate,” try:
“Thank you for your consideration. Unfortunately, I am currently not at capacity to take on this project.”
Small tweaks in your language will ease any self-imposed guilt you may experience when starting to say no when you are at your bandwidth.
- Learn to delegate
Perhaps some of the no’s you will start to give will be more along the lines of, “While I am not at capacity to do this, ______ is.” This point ties in with not striving for perfection. You won’t always be able to do all the work. One part of your journey will be learning to let go of some of the responsibility and trusting that someone else on your team is just as capable of executing the project well.
- Invest energy into understanding how you manage your time
To be able to create a work/life balance, you first need to identify how you split up your time. Attempt to track your time usage for about a week. Or if this is too hard, just focus on understanding how you work. Do you work best in small chunks of time? Try the Pomodoro Technique. Do you have a lot of projects going on at the same time? Try time blocking. Explore different time management styles and find the one that works the best for you
- Block time for YOU and protect this time
As you understand how you use your time, you will understand where in your day you need to carve time out for yourself. Do you need a coffee break midway through the day? Do you need to start your days with a run? Figure out what it is that helps you be YOU and pick a time in your day to stick to it. This is the time that is going to give you the energy to be able to do
- When you interview for a job, remember that you are also interviewing them
We can’t talk about a work/life balance without talking about the actual workplace, or employer. To be proactive about achieving a work/life balance, approach each new job as a dual interview. Not only are they interviewing you for the position, but you are also interviewing them as your potential employer. Do they seem responsive? Are they willing to hear your concerns? How do they treat their current employers?
The process of finding a work/life balance is crucial to any practice of self care. While we could be loving the work we are doing, it is important to have a collection of things or experiences we like to engage in, for the sole purpose of it bringing us joy. Zero expectations.
COVID-19 ushered in a new landscape of work. But it did not create it, it merely increased the pace and shortened our timeline of getting there. The future of work is one that is largely remote. Accepting this reality now and taking the necessary steps towards achieving this balance will set us up for success, wherever we choose to work.