I don’t know about you, but since working from home over the last eight months, I have 100% suffered from screen fatigue. At the start of the pandemic, how to be productive was top of mind to help me navigate this new virtual world. However fast forward to November, I am now experiencing tiredness from the constant video calling. It’s got to the point where even some of my non-meetings, which are meant to be fun and informal, are beginning to feel like meetings. The social calls, the casual 1:1’s, the impromptu how-the-heck-do-I-solve-this-problem kinda calls, still have an element of planning to them. They each require you to send over a meeting invite, set up a new VC link, whilst also making sure your room and your appearance both are relatively presentable, and any other distractions are kept to a minimum. At the same time, you are trying to do your job in one space which has no boundaries between your home and work life. I am also currently working in the world of recruitment, so on top of these video calls with colleagues, friends and family, there are also candidates and interviewers thrown into the mix. Now, that’s a lot of mascara I go through, I’ll tell you that much!
Of course video calling has been essential in helping us to cope and stay connected. It has also aided some of us to continue working throughout the pandemic, but there is no doubt it is also very time consuming and tiring. I’m pretty sure I spend on average at least eight hours of my work week, solely on video calls. Maybe like me, you too have felt the need at some point to always be visible online to your team, fearing you’d be seen as slacking if you weren’t. I created this expectation that I had to respond straight away to that email, or instant message via Microsoft Teams/ Workplace/ Slack, whatever it may be, despite this memo never coming from my employer. In fact, I feel quite lucky to say it has been quite the opposite. I have had open conversations about the reality of working from home with my managers and team, who each have related and encouraged healthier and smarter ways of working. Of course there are still elements to working from home which are more convenient than office life, but by no means is every day a walk in the park. From wifi issues, home distractions, loneliness, screen fatigue and working more intensely, it can feel difficult and disheartening. If you can relate to any of these things, I wanted to share with you a few tips that have helped me claim back time in my day, and improve my work-life balance.
It all comes down to smart planning. With daylight hours getting shorter, I ensure that I make time for a walk and some form of exercise every single work day. I plan this around when there are no meetings (and in my case, interviews) coming up, so that I am less likely to be distracted and interrupted. Just as I used to utilize my commute into work to practice mindfulness, I continue to plan time in for me. I do my best to get at least 30 minutes fresh air a day, with the incentive of getting some steps in on my FitBit. I also love podcasts and am back into the habit of listening to these on my walk. I am still loving Sibling Revelry if anyone needs a recommendation!
Every day I also block out my lunch break in my diary for two reasons. The first being so no one puts in any additional meetings, and the second so that I remember to actually take a lunch break. I work best in quiet spaces so my work days tend to zoom past, however this means that I physically need a reminder to take a break. I also try to avoid working lunches, and go to a different room to eat. I’ve found that the change of scenery makes a huge difference to my mindset.
Block out your time as much as possible. Whether you can introduce a no meeting day rule (so you can actually do your job), or no meetings on a Friday after 4pm, make your day work for you as much as you can.
Be honest and set expectations with yourself and your manager. Do you really need to be at that meeting for the whole hour, or is your time better spent only joining for the first or last 15 minutes? Although you may be conscious of building and maintaining relationships at work, some things can be better summed up in an email, rather than a meeting. If you find this is happening regularly, feed it back and discuss it with your team. The chances are, everyone else is also thinking the same thing.
It’s important to acknowledge that we most definitely aren’t in the same working world that we were in back in March. Therefore I encourage you to feel empowered to break or reshape some of your old working habits, as we continue to work remotely.
I’d love to hear your tips on how to claim back time in your day, feel free to share with me in the comments below!
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