How to manage work-life balance during COVID-19

October 08, 2020 5 min read

Balancing work-life during COVID-19

Managing the work-life balance has become a big topic of discussion on the Internet and in society during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many people's usual routine of getting up in the morning, having coffee (or a few Viter Energy Mints [1]) and breakfast, going to work for 8 or 10 hours, and then doing an after-work routine has changed.

Before, you had a nice boundary: work life, and away-from-work life. Now the lines are blurred, and many people work in the same space they live. Which can be confusing.

Working More Hours

Some people are not working at all, unfortunately, and others are working from home. And when you work from home, you may be putting in more hours.

 CBS News reports:

The researchers, from Harvard Business School and NYU Stern School of Business, used anonymized email data to analyze the work habits of more than 3 million people spread out among 16 cities that were locked down. Their conclusion: People worked an average of 48.5 minutes more per day, compared with the pre-virus period. [2]

And employers are starting to use more computer programs to track people's productivity. They can watch your computer and track how many minutes or hours you spend on certain tasks. It's sort of creepy, if you ask me.

So people are being paid more if they work an hour more per day, right? Wrong, if a study from 2017 still holds true today. [3] Doesn't that tick you off??

Mental Health Crisis

The stress and worry from the pandemic are causing a mental health crisis. People are saying COVID-19 has caused them more mental trouble than the terrorism of Sept. 11, 2001, and the great financial crisis of the late 2000s.

And the stress from the COVID-19 pandemic itself is exacerbated by the work-life balance being out of whack. Says

Although working times appear to be on the rise for full-time employees during the shakeup of COVID-19, stress is compromising overall productivity. Accelerated connectivity has its advantages, but the bulldozing trend of hypercommunication may wreak havoc on our personal lives. Eventually, if we’re not careful, it will compromise our productivity and subject us to information overload, constant distraction, and burnout. [4]

So the question is, how do you cope with all of this?

This psychologist from Montefiore Health System talks about work-life balance. One tip: Treat a workday like it's a real workday.

Tips on Coping

The first bit of advice is to get up from the computer, turn off your phone, and go get some exercise, do something recreational, prepare a meal, or something other than work, on the same schedule as you would do when you work at the brick-and-mortar office.

If you used to get off at 5 p.m., quit working at home at 5. You might need to check email or prepare a report later that night, but be sure to get away from all electronic communications and computing devices for a while.

Another big tip is to take your coffee breaks and lunch breaks on the same schedule, or at least be sure to take them at some point. Do not skip your favorite part of the day!

As one site said, let your phone's or computer's airplane mode that disables the wireless signal be your best friend.

Make sure to schedule family dinners, get on some video calls with friends, read books, or watch a TV show or movie.

Make a point to put these activities into your formal schedule. It gives you a convenient excuse to tell someone you have something scheduled for a certain time.

Other tips:

  • As we mentioned, exercise is so important. Healthline says it can [5]:
  1. Improve mood and reduce anxiety.
  2. Help you lose weight and fat, which can be a problem if you're always home, and build muscle.
  3. Increase your levels of energy.
  4. Reduce your risk of chronic illnesses and diseases.
  5. Keep your skin healthy.
  6. Improve your memory and thinking skills and overall brain functioning by improving blood flow.
  7. Improve sleep patterns.
  8. Reduce chronic pain.
  9. Improve your sex life.
  • If you have a dedicated workspace, you might find it easier to keep your work in one area. If you get into the habit of doing work in the living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, your work will spill over into your entire home. If you have an office, just work there. If you usually work at the dining room table, keep your tasks there.
  • The Jefferson Center says to establish transition times and routines [10]. When you work at an office, you travel there and home again. It sort of marks the beginning and ending of your day. One thing you can do is take a walk around the block right before you begin work and at the end of your shift. At the end of the day, turn off your computer.
  • Be honest with family, co-workers and your supervisor. The Jefferson Center advises: "If you feel overwhelmed by your workload or you’re struggling to make connections in a remote setting, talk to your manager and look for solutions together. Proactive communication can help prevent messy situations and frustration down the road."
  • Be good to yourself. If you think you don't have time for self-care, rethink that. With all the stress, you need to avoid burnout as much as possible. You might even consider therapy if your situation seems to be overwhelming.

When you go on that walk or before you start exercising, considering taking along Viter Energy Mints[6] with caffeine and B vitamins. The caffeine and Bs give you a boost, while the mint freshens your breath.

More Tips, on Coping with Stress says 80% of people experience stress, and half of them want to find ways to cope with it. In Britain, Forbes says, the problem of stress is so bad that 74% of the population feels so overwhelmed by stress that they are unable to cope, and that was before COVID-19! [7] has several ways to alleviate stress that work any time, during COVID-19 or when the pandemic has passed [8]:

  • Keep a positive attitude toward life.
  • Eat healthful meals.
  • Learn to tell people no if you encounter a situation that you do not want to be involved in.
  • Do not take drugs or alcohol.
  • Seek ways to interact socially. Talk to a neighbor over the fence, or, as we said, schedule a video meeting with friends and family.
  • Realize and accept that some things are beyond your control.
  • Do not be aggressive, angry, and argumentative, but instead be assertive.
  • Try relaxing pastimes like yoga, tai chi, or meditation. As they said on Seinfeld, "Serenity now!"
  • Do breathing exercises. [9]

Whatever you do, get enough sleep, exercise, a good diet, and remember we're all in this together. It won't last forever.

Mark Miller
Mark Miller

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