We’re all used to wearing different hats for different jobs. We go to the office and have our business hat on. We come home and have our spouse or parent hat. We work on our side hustle and have our entrepreneurial hat on. But what happens when you have to wear all of those hats at the same time?
Unfortunately, for many of us that’s the new normal. We’re working from home as we teach the kids, take care of our pets, and try to keep our side business afloat. With so much going on at once, it’s not hard to find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and burned out.
But things don’t have to be! If you’re finding yourself at your wit’s end, try the following.
1. Be honest about what you can and can’t do
While in the past you could drop the kids at school and head to work, you may suddenly find yourself at home with three kids and a whole slew of classwork to help manage. No matter how hard you try, you’re probably not going to be able to give everything you’re tasked with the entirety of your focus and energy.
And that’s okay!
In times like these, it’s important to be honest about what you’re able to achieve on any given day. If you need to take an hour lunch break to help your kids – be transparent with your coworkers or boss. Tell them to possibly expect your toddler to stumble into your zoom call or interrupt your conference call. More than likely they’re going through the same things you are.
If you’re upfront and honest about these kinds of interruptions, everyone in your life is more than likely going to understand and sympathize. And that way, you can create more realistic expectations of how things will get done and when. Because your productivity will probably not be at normal levels. By acknowledging that fact, you can be more forthright about the fact that your excel spreadsheet may take a little bit longer to get done – because you’ve got common core math to help teach!
2. Set some boundaries
It’s also going to be important to set some boundaries – both for work and home.
This applies in both a physical and mental sense. Suddenly being crammed in together can be a little much. Make sure to set up a space for yourself that’s entirely your own. That means it’s time to create:
1. A workstation – someplace you can go to do whatever work you need to accomplish for the day.
2. A relaxation hub – someplace you can go to kick up your heels interruption free.
Having a place to still head to in the morning is important for our mental health and productivity – even if the commute is just a trip down the hall. Don’t spend time in your bedroom or common areas. Instead, try and set up a tiny spot that you can get your work done with as few distractions as possible.
But the same should be done for your off hours. Creating mental and physical space between where you work and play is important, now more than ever. When we blur those lines, we start to lose our ability to simply enjoy a hangout space with our friends and family. Moreover, sometimes there can be too much together time. So, it’s important to create a time or space just for yourself. Take a long bubble bath, go for a walk, or work in your garden. Create a gym space where you can workout first thing in the morning.
Whatever works best for you.
3. Be specific about when you’re working and when you’re playing
It can be easy to spend an extra hour just finishing that report or responding to emails, especially when you are already stir crazy and need something to do.
But the reality is, we still need time every day to decompress. If you were working that 9 to 5 – keep working it. While you may need to be a little more flexible with your hours depending on what your circumstances are, it’s still important to have a firm timeframe for when you are “at work” and when you are “at home.”
Be clear with coworkers or clients about what your schedule is, and do the same for friends and family. While it may be hard to enforce – who can stop a ten year old from barging in to ask a question? – it’s still important to try. Maintaining regular work hours helps increase feelings of normalcy, and manage expectations around when you are or aren’t available to work.
Most importantly, remember to be gentle with yourself. Work-life balance can be hard to achieve in the best of circumstances. And these are hardly the best. So, no matter what happens over the next few weeks, make sure to give yourself a break.