Whether you are completely remote this semester or taking a few hybrid classes, we are all adjusting to this new normal of working and doing class from the comfort of our bedrooms. Last semester caught us off guard, and most of us have not have had the time to develop the healthy work-life balance that we need. On the bright side, this new semester offers us a clean slate to start again and continue to better ourselves.
Work-life balance is a concept that continues to be thrown around so much, especially this past spring, but most people never give it much thought. However, by the end of the semester, many of us were burnt out, and by summer, everyone was basically running on empty when it came to starting summer jobs. It's easy to feel like life is an endless cycle of waking up, eating, hopping on zoom and repeating it all the next day. If this is how you feel, it's time to create your own work-life balance, and there are a few easy ways to help you figure out where to start.
- Create A Nonnegotiable Work Schedule
As easy as it sounds, the necessity of setting boundaries within a schedule you create for yourself are often overlooked. Working from home comes with the perks of not having to commute or even get fully dressed up. Without these small routines, it is so easy for activities to blend into each other throughout the day. You may find yourself multitasking throughout the day, especially when your camera is off in a Zoom meeting, or telling yourself “just five more minutes of work” at 3 a.m.
As college students, we’ve grown accustomed to the idea of pulling all-nighters and working through the weekend, and often it even becomes a point of pride. However, if you are practicing safe habits by limiting your outside exposure, then you are also limiting your escapes from your work environment. Make sure you set boundaries for when you will work during the day and when you will enjoy your own time, whether that’s calling a friend, enjoying a meal or watching a new show on Netflix. It's important to uphold these boundaries for your own mental health.
- Keep Meal Times Work-Free
In the same vein of setting boundaries, keep certain personal actions sacred no matter what. While it might be easy to check emails, write a reading response and create flyers for your club during your lunch break, ignoring the temptation will do wonders for your mental health. Take these 15-20 minutes to unwind and enjoy your meal and prepare yourself for the rest of the day ahead.
- Do Not Work From Your Bed
As comfortable as it might seem to attend class from bed, you are unconsciously creating an environment where your bed becomes associated with work. Once your mind makes this connection, your bed will no longer be a place to relax. It will become an anxiety point where you will feel like you should be working 24/7, even when it’s time to sleep. So, if you have a desk available to you, use it; your brain will thank you later!
- Have A Morning Routine
By not having a morning commute, it’s easy to feel like you have extra time to sleep in. You might find yourself waking up 10 minutes before a class and rushing to look presentable, eating in a meeting or worst of all getting ready while your camera and mic are off. Set a consistent time to wake up in the morning that will allow you to get ready, eat breakfast and prepare for the day without racing against the clock. Taking these small steps to creating normalcy will also help reduce stress because you won't have to worry about finding time to catch up on everything all at once.
- Unplug From Your Phone At Night
Millennials and Gen Zs are often being criticized for their addictions to technology. In these times of quarantine, the need to be connected has increased tenfold, and with it, the damaging effect of technology have also increased. With the constant notifications from your email, coworkers texting you questions on your days off and the small TikTok icon tempting you at every glance at your phone, the lines of work and play easily get blurred.
While downtime before bed often equates to personal time scrolling on social media or watching Netflix, it's most effective to completely turn off your phone 30 minutes before you go to bed. Not only will this give your eyes and brain a rest from the constant influx of media, but you will also be reducing your exposure to blue light, which could result in a more peaceful sleep.
With each habit, it is important that you determine how they fit into your lifestyle. We all have different routines, and in order for these to be sustainable habits in your life, you must take them on in moderation. This semester definitely isn't normal, but there are always ways to cope. The most important thing to remember is this won't last forever.