The separation of work and personal life can be challenging for some.
In the wake of the pandemic, various roles were shifted and employees had to learn how to work remotely.
A 2022 survey revealed nearly half of remote workers struggled with work-life balance. Charter Communications’ Principal Service Designer Jeneba Wint believes adopting the mindset of integrating life into your work, and not the other way around, will be key to finding a happy medium.
“I don’t believe in balance because I’m not putting this job before my life. So, I just find ways where integrated work can be integrated into my life,” Wint told AfroTech.
We’ve created a list of helpful tips derived from Wint and Blavity Inc. Co-Founder and COO Jeff Nelson on what can be done to improve work-life balance.
Be Intentional About Your Workspace
If you work remotely, a desk planted next to your bed will probably not be productive for you to work at as it may make it harder to switch your focus between work and personal life.
There are many possibilities for your workplace, whether it is a colorful work environment at home or if you choose to work at the coffee shop around the corner.
“I don’t always like to work in the very same place every day,” Nelson said, during AfroTech World 2021. “Now I also don’t like to travel to a new place to work every day. But sometimes switching it up and either leaving your home or your office to go work in a coffee shop may be helpful. It may give you inspiration in new ways.”
He continued, “The weather may inspire you. You may see a beautiful building or you may just see something that catches your eye and gives you a new perspective on the problems you’re trying to solve or the work that you’re trying to do.”
Time Block Throughout Your Day
Furthermore, creating time blocks in your day to complete your tasks on the job is important. Wint uses the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working for 25 minutes followed by a five-minute break, according to TechTarget. Following four work intervals, longer rest periods of 15 to 30 minutes are encouraged.
“Time blocking will maximize the time that’s there to be most productive,” Wint said. “When you’re not conscious of the time, you might take four hours to do something that’s really could just take you hour. So, I use the Pomodoro method for time blocking. That’s when I’m most efficient and most productive.”
Nelson offers a different approach. He suggests High-Intensity Interval Productivity (HIIP) which focuses on outcomes over process.
He suggests allocating flexible time blocks for unstructured free time. Inviting room for spontaneity he believes opens doors to creativity, prevents disruption, and encourages individuals to operate at their maximum potential.
“When it comes to my actual schedule, my actual calendar, I like to keep huge blocks of free time but I also like to keep some anchor activities that give me structure,” Nelson said. “So, having both this notion of a routine but also unstructured free time to take advantage of whatever the day brings.”
He continued, “Having such a rigid schedule does two things that I think are really, really negative. One, it really drastically removes your ability to be creative and [I] think spontaneity is a boon for creativity. And so if you don’t have those moments that aren’t structured to your schedule, you miss out on those opportunities to be creative. But furthermore, if your schedule is packed to the brim, when you inevitably get off schedule, you have a sense of failure.”
Set Work Boundaries
You should work to maintain set hours for your job, so that when the time comes for you to clock out, you do so. Working outside of the confines of set work hours could lead to fatigue, a dissatisfied outlook on the job, and stress.
“People need to set intentional work hours,” Wint told AfroTech. “Work boundaries is teaching the people at work how to treat you. It could be verbal, it could be written, but it’s literally like an invisible line, invisible contract of how you’re supposed to be treated. I’m married, I’m a mom, I work and I have a business. So whenever I’m starting a job, first couple of conversations with my manager, I’m telling them upfront, I work between these hours. After this, I am not available. I do not work on the weekends. I do not take calls or people sending direct messages at 8:00 p.m. I’m not responding. But I always let them know this is my schedule and these are the hours that I’m available and I’m not breaking those boundaries because I just feel like that’s an in invitation for people to violate you.”
Technology is not our enemy.
Currently, there’s the rise of applications such as ChatGPT that are allowing individuals to have greater ease while fulfilling tasks. As AfroTech previously told you, the artificial intelligence (AI) chat bot can emulate a conversation. The language model is tasked to give instructions based off a prompt inserted by the user.
ChatGPT can be helpful in lightening your load for tasks such as drafting emails, reports or serve as a starting point of inspiration. In essence, you can be more strategic with your day to day, which could reduce the time you would typically take on the task and, in turn create more free time for your day.
“Instead of just doing mundane and repetitive tasks, people are creating new and novel things that are powered by technology” Nelson said.
Create Moments Of Joy
Stop waiting until the weekend to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You should also be intentional about creating moments during your work week to decompress from the day. This could be displayed in various ways, such as a coffee break with a friend or booking activities rooted in self care. Ultimately, you can’t be your best self at the workplace if you are not content.
“People need to put moments of joy and enjoyable things into their day, not waiting until the weekend, not waiting until, ‘Oh, I got off work late, it’s seven o’clock.’ Now you’re going to try and scramble and do something that you actually found enjoyable for like 30 minutes out of a 24 hour day,” Wint mentioned. “I think scheduling more time to do things that are enjoyable that you love to do, that fill your cup, refresh makes you more productive and puts me in a more positive mindset So I love that taking those intentional joy breaks.”