This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by TJay Belt (@tjaybelt). 2020 and 2021 brought changes for many of us, and TJay wants to know what we have learned, tried, or implemented for balancing work and life during this time. This is an interesting topic for me because I absolutely failed at it in 2020. It was only a few months into 2021 that I started figuring things out for myself. In this post, I will be sharing and explaining the yeps and nopes I have implemented for myself while working from home.
(Side note: After figuring out how to spell dos and don’ts, and deciding that all of the correct options look weird, I chose to use “yeps and nopes” instead. Just… just roll with it 😅)
Nopes for Balancing Work and Life
I could technically reframe these as yeps, but it feels more balanced (get it?) to have three in each group 😁 These are all about stopping or limiting my own bad habits.
Work apps on my phone? Nope!
This is more of a guideline than a rule for me, as there are times when I actually do need work apps on my phone. The light version is to disable all notifications outside of work hours.
I need this because I have very little self-control when my phone is in my hand. “Oooooh, a notification? I must read it immediately!” And suddenly I find myself getting stressed about work emails late at night or responding to chats early in the morning before even getting out of bed. (I actually have most notifications disabled on my phone for this reason.) It’s also usually not enough to just disable notifications, because then I will suddenly find myself opening work apps for no reason because I’m mindlessly clicking on things. Terrible habit.
My solution? Remove triggers and temptation by uninstalling work apps.
Work laptop outside of work hours? Nope!
When my work day is over, I shut down my work laptop and put it away.
I need this because otherwise I will end up going “oh, I’m just going to…” and then spend an hour or three “just” doing that thing – without getting paid for my work. I’ve skipped workouts, missed family dinners, and been late to appointments because of this. Terrible habit.
My solution? Make it more difficult to “just” do the thing.
Eat in front of a screen? Nope!
When I’m working from home, I have to go downstairs to get food. I stay downstairs while eating, either just relaxing or reading something fun like comics.
I need this because otherwise I will scarf down my food without even noticing what I’m eating. While continuing to stare at a screen without blinking. Bad habit.
My solution? Schedule lunch breaks, block out my calendar, and actually take the full break to enjoy my meal and relax my eyes.
Yeps for Balancing Work and Life
Let’s end with the positives. These are all about building or reinforcing good habits 🤩
Use pomodoro technique? Yep!
Balance goes both ways. When working from home, it’s easy to get distracted. By using the pomodoro technique, it’s easier for me to focus on work during work hours, so I can turn off my computer at the end of the day knowing that I’ve done what I’m supposed to do that day. I know that for the next 25 minutes I can only work on this one task, and then I get a 5-minute break to catch up on chats, emails, or go refill my coffee.
Get fresh air? Yep!
During lunch and my 5-minute pomodoro breaks, I often step outside to take some deep breaths, close my eyes, and get some fresh air. Maybe I’ll take out the trash or go get my mail. Some days I schedule grocery shopping, workouts or walks during the day and work an hour or two longer in the afternoon instead. This is especially useful when I’m working on something that requires more thinking than doing, as the downtime helps me subconsciously process things.
Prioritize sleep? Yep!
My favorite thing about working from home is not the lack of commute. I actually quite miss the commute itself, I liked having a clear start/stop to my work day and regular times to listen to podcasts or read articles. No, my favorite thing is that I have more time to sleep. An additional hour or two does wonders for my productivity, while I can still start working fairly early when I’m most productive.
To me, balancing work and life is all about reducing bad habits and improving good habits. I’ve found things that work for me, but only after experiencing what didn’t work for me. All I can do is keep trying to do better 😊
About the Author
Cathrine Wilhelmsen is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP, BimlHero Certified Expert, international speaker, author, blogger, and chronic volunteer. She loves data and coding, as well as teaching and sharing knowledge - oh, and sci-fi, chocolate, coffee, and cats 🤓