How To Accomplish Things Without Affecting Family Time
Finding balance can be hard
During the pandemic, my day job went fully remote. My commute time was cut down to less than one minute per day because I could just roll out of bed and start working.
So, I decided to begin the process of chasing my dreams of being a writer. I started building a blog, a social media following, and I found Medium.
This is all great, but it takes a lot of time. To top it all off, I started college again too.
At first, I was really struggling to balance my time. I was staying up until 2 a.m. every day just to get things done. It was starting to negatively affect my family life. I could tell my significant other was bothered by my focus on every thing, but our relationship.
I knew I had to change something, so I did. These are the steps I took to balance my time effectively. It didn't mean I couldn't get the things done that I needed to get done. It just meant focusing my aims, so that I could spend time with my family too.
Begin by changing the structure of your life
It is very easy to fall into a rut. Sometimes we assume our habits are set in stone. People fear change. I know I am guilty of this
With that being said, you have to be flexible in life. Habits form and habits change. It is great to have a routine, but you will be much happier if you loosen up that routine a bit.
Try to focus on the activities that are most important or bring you the most enjoyment. There is no shame in outsourcing or delegating work that you don't enjoy or find much value in. Work needs to get done, but it all doesn't have to be done by you. This will allow you to maintain structure, but also keep some free time available.
You will feel much more empowered as a person if you are actually in control of the structure you create for yourself.
Start with small strides. Build from there
How many times have you made a New Year's resolution to do something like lose weight or get abs? How many times have you stuck to it?
It is the exact same concept when we take on too much in our work lives. If you are a workaholic, trying to cut your daily hours down from 16 to 8 overnight isn't going to work.
Try working an hour less per day. Start with a small goal that is attainable. If you go at things the same way a workaholic or overachiever would, you will end up with the same results.
I had the same mentality when I started writing on Medium. I wanted to write 3 articles a day or more. The same thing happened with my blog. Now being a full-time employee and student, that is setting myself up for failure. Especially, if I want to spend time with my family too. That is impossible. Over time, you can build to those things, but it can't happen overnight.
You are a human, not a super human! That's okay, though, build from those small gains.
Establish your boundaries
Many of us are working from home right now. School has been virtual and will most likely remain virtual for a while. There's really no guaranteed space right now with home and work life. We are responsible for creating that space.
You have to be willing to rebuild those boundaries. It can be really simple. Maybe, instead of your commute, you can take a walk in the morning. Or maybe you can go to the park to enjoy your coffee before getting started.
It is also important to set up a workspace at home. Try to avoid the living room or bedroom, if possible. This space should be quiet and only for work. This can be a simple and effective way to prevent you from working too much and from being distracted while working.
If you have kids, you may have to alter your schedule to fit theirs. This requires discipline and creativity. Figure out your most productive hours and figure out when they need you to be present as a parent. Use this to create a working schedule that fits your life.
Be upfront with everyone, including family, friends, co-workers, and clients, about what is going on in your life and your deadlines.
Don't let perfectionism run your life
When you have a lot of responsibilities, perfectionism is out of reach. It can be a destructive habit, if left unchecked.
One of the most effective ways to avoid burnout is to let go of your perfectionism. Instead of striving for perfectionism, strive for excellence.
"A lot of perfectionistic tendencies are rooted in fear and insecurity," says Matt Plummer, founder of Zarvana
So many perfectionists actually cling harder to their bad habit, even if it is negatively affecting their productivity. I am very guilty of doing this. The thing is, if you really want to be a high achiever, you are going to fail sometimes. You aren't going to be able to do everything perfectly.
Ask yourself the important questions:
Am I use my time wisely and effectively?
Am I actually being productive?
It is important to see the bigger picture of what you are doing. If you are only focused on doing things perfectly, you won't have time to be focused on what's important.
Try creating a checklist for each task. Reflect on your progress. Then move forward to the next task at hand. Don't be afraid to ask for someone else's perspective on your work.
Limit your distractions
Focus on what is right in front of you! There are so many distractions today. I get distracted by Facebook, the news, etc.
Anything can be a distraction when you are trying to work. It could be email, slack, or any form of social media. Even your children playing in the background can be a distraction.
The key to blocking out distractions is focusing on one thing at a time.
If you struggle to do this, start small. Try to just set aside one hour a day of uninterrupted work. You can even reward yourself when the hour is up with one of those distractions.
It may help to make a list of both your potential distractions and your priorities each day. From there you can limit distractions and build the necessary boundaries to effectively devote your time to high-priority tasks.
When you are busy, do you make time to go to the bathroom? Or to eat? So, you should make time for self-care too.
Exercise can reduce stress. This can be done in many ways. You could go to the gym, do yoga, do crossfit, meditate, etc. There are so many options and all of them can give your body endorphins that will help you be more productive.
Balance also includes self-care to keep your mind, body, and soul refreshed and ready to go. Most of the time, exercise can require minor effort in comparison to the payoff it gives you.
There are other forms of self-care too. You can read. You can just find some quiet time or a place to unplug.
When you are busy and caught up in work, don't forget to take some time for yourself to unwind. Enjoy the moment. Life is too short to not practice self-care.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
You can do every thing I listed above and still struggle. Or you could still be anxious. It happens.
You can reach out to co-workers or your network of friends for support. There's also no shame in reaching out to a therapist or some type of mental health professional. Most of the time, people will actually respect you more for admitting you need a little help. It is the right thing to do.
I have sought therapy in the pandemic. It has helped my life in so many ways. One of the things it does is provide accountability each week to ensure I follow through on the changes I want to make.
It is understandable to have to work harder during a pandemic, but don't forget about putting extra work into your well-being as well.
This post was originally published on Medium.